Fleetwood, or, The Stain of Birth. A Novel of American Life
by Epes Sargent
Thou light of other days, vision joyous though brief, whose voice
was music, and whose presence sunshine! on the dusty high-way of life,
fatigue arrested my footsteps. I saw a green tree, a grassy knoll,
which invited me to repose. I slept—and my dreams were happy
ones—they were of thee!
Brief the season for slumber! The hour of returning toil came
round. I awoke. And now a book must be writ. Imagination could find in
the realms of fiction nothing half so charming as thou—thou, lost
I wrote. But when I remembered the original, I could have destroyed
the picture, which so feebly portrayed her lineaments. It was too late.
What was writ, was writ. But thou, most gentle critic, would'st have
smiled upon my labors, and not have seen the injustice which was done
thyself; for thou would'st ever pluck roses so as to leave their thorns
behind! Would that the world were of thy philosophy!
The public know me not. That is one consolation. They have
attributed my former literary trespasses,and will probably attribute
this, to another—to one who might commit far more flagrant offences,
and yet be forgiven. Be patient, dear sir, under the trying imputation.
Forgive me, if the frail and slippery raft, composed of two rolling
timbers, whereon I stood expecting momentary submersion, has been
floated by chance under the lee of your handsome yacht, to which I am
well content to owe my parasitical progress.
My publisher remarks that I have said enough. I consider him
infallible in these matters. He gave the title to my last book—though
I must say it struck me that it was not altogether new—that I had
heard something of the kind before. No matter. Twenty thousand copies
were sold. And so, when he insinuates that I had better come to a full
stop in my overture, I reply, "You know best, my dear sir," and throw
aside my pen.
There is a busy motion in the Heaven;
The wind doth chase the flag upon the tower;
Fast sweep the clouds—the sickle of the moon,
Struggling, darts snatches of uncertain light.
No form of star is visible.
Midnight brought with it no abatement of the violence of the gale.
During the day it had swept in eddying gusts through the broad avenues
and narrow cross-streets of the city, carrying desolation and
dismay—prostrating chimneys—scattering the slates from the roofs—and
making sad havoc with the wooden signs, which adorned the districts
devoted to traffic. One man, as he was passing up Broadway, had been
knocked on the head by the shaft of a canvass awning, and instantly
killed. Others had been severely bruised by the flying fragments,
strewn at random by the blast.
The dwellers on the North River had been appalled by the lurid
aspect and the rapid swelling of that majestic stream. Its tortured
waters would writhe and convolve into huge ridges of foam, as if a new
ocean were struggling for birth beneath the laboring surface. The
adjoining piers and abutments were soon overwhelmed by the rushing
tide. Boats and sloops and schooners of a considerable size were
wrenched from their mooringsand driven by the unsparing gale high into
the street, side by side with the habitations of landsmen. Most of the
cellars near the river were completely inundated, and the destitute and
despairing inmates driven forth houseless.
It was indeed a night of storm and desolation— a night when those,
who were comfortably sheltered from the loosened elements, could not
omit thanking God that they were not at that moment sharers in the lot
of the hapless child of penury on the bare ground, or of the struggling
seaman, whose bark lay off the too adjacent coast.
The streets of the city had been deserted at an early hour that
evening by all, whom necessity did not compel to run the risk of being
made subjects for the coroner and the penny reporters. The air grew
chiller as the night advanced, and the snow fell in smothering
profusion. The city lamps were unlit, but, with your eyes turned from
the teeth of the blast, the snow-light, as it is beautifully termed by
the Germans, would disclose objects with tolerable distinctness.
While the gale was at its height, the door of a house in what was
then one of the most fashionable streets of the city might have been
seen to open, and a young man to issue forth unattended. But some one,
who was holding the door ajar, called him back before he had reached
the side-walk, and a hurried interchange of words took place.
"You had better stay, Challoner. It is a dreadful night. Come
"No, I thank you, Winton. I shall get along very well. Good night!"
"Good night then, since you insist upon going."
Winton closed the door, and returned to a parlor elegantly
furnished and comfortably warmed, where notwithstanding the lateness of
the hour, a board liberally spread with all the delicacies of the
season,including canvass-backs and the choicest wines, stood in the
middle of the room. Folding-doors communicated with another apartment
brilliantly lighted, where a table covered with cards and red and white
counters indicated that the party had been engaged at faro. Four
gentlemen besides Winton, the host, sat down to the hot supper, which
now claimed their attention.
"Why the deuce didn't Challoner stay?" asked a pursy, red-faced
little man, who had evidently been in luck that night.
"I couldn't persuade him, although I offered him a bed," replied
"How much did he lose to-night?" inquired a young man named
Brockden, who seemed to have little appetite for the delicacies before
"Some two thousand at least," replied Winton. "I never knew such a
run of ill luck, as he has been the victim of, the last month or two."
"And yet no one would suspect from his manner that he was a loser
rather than a winner," said the red-faced individual.
"True; I never knew a man so keep his temper and equanimity under
losses. If I am not much mistaken, he has staked his last dollar
to-night and lost it."
"Indeed!" said the red-faced man. "Try these ducks, Brockden. You
will find them superb. His last dollar, did you say?"
As our business does not lie with the exemplary company, to whom we
have thus suddenly introduced our readers, we will quit them and follow
him, who was the subject of their discourse. No sooner had the door
closed upon him than he threw his cloak over his arm, took off his hat,
tore open his vest, and stood with his face to the blast as if its
snow-laden currents were hardly strong and chilly enough to cool the
fever of his brain. Hisperson thus bared to the storm, he walked on
slowly like one immersed in thought.
"It is all—all gone!" murmured he. "I did not leave myself enough
even to buy a loaf of bread. What a wretch—what an insane wretch I
have been! And how can I now meet Emily, beggar that I am? God of
mercy! I do not know the man in this populous city, to whom I can go
to-morrow to borrow a five dollar bill. And then my credit—Credit! I
have none. Ay, lash me, ye keen winds! Oh! that ye might bear me like a
leaf away from these human habitations and sink me in the wide ocean!"
Challoner leaned against a lamp-post and groaned in spirit. He
suddenly started, and looked around as if to assure himself in regard
to the locality where he found himself.
"It is the very house!" said he. "I cannot be mistaken. Can it be
that she lives there still? And if she does—what then? What then,
Challoner? Art thou indeed so degraded that thou wouldst ask alms of
her—of her, the daughter of shame, who first lured thee aside from the
paths of pleasantness and peace? Nay; say rather it was thy own folly
and wickedness, that led thee astray. And yet in spite of her
degradation, I believe she truly loved me once—as much surely as her
fallen nature was capable of loving anything. I have lavished hundreds
upon her. She must be rich; for unlike her frail sisterhood, she was
not a spendthrift. Truly I know of no one rather than her to whom I
would apply for aid. At any rate, Augusta, I will test your
And thus determining, this weak-minded man proceeded to put his
project into execution, and knocked at the door. But Challoner was not
so thoroughly bad a person as his conduct would seem to declare. He had
been left, when quite a child, an orphan; and his guardian, who was an
old bachelor named Hardinge, had brought him up in the most lax and
indulgent manner. The boy always found his pockets well filled with
money, and was early accustomed to expensive tastes and habits,
notwithstanding the property left by his parents did not exceed ten
thousand dollars. Hardinge himself had introduced him when hardly
eighteen years of age to a female some five years his elder, whom we
have heard him apostrophise by the name of Augusta; and perhaps he was
often indebted to the influence she exercised over him, that he was
saved from still more destructive pursuits.
Challoner had just entered upon his twenty-first year, when his
guardian died, and left him the uncontrolled possessor of his
patrimony, which had been reduced about one half during his minority. A
still more important event soon afterward occurred. Challoner fell in
love. He dropped the unworthy connexion, to which we have alluded, and
began to regard life more seriously. The father of Emily Gordon was
arrogant both on account of his wealth and his family; and he frowned
upon Challoner's pretensions. But a smile from the maiden herself was
sufficient to inspire Challoner with hope and resolution. He applied
himself to the study of the law, and built grand castles in the broad
domain of the future. Three years flew by. Mr. Gordon not only still
forbade his daughter to receive Challoner as a suitor, but expressed
his determination that she should marry the booby son of his old friend
Norwood. The propriety of an elopement now began to be discussed by the
lovers at their clandestine interviews; and Challoner, in an evil hour,
entered into some stock speculations with a view to making a fortune by
rapid steps. Before the result could beknown, some new act of tyranny
on the part of old Gordon rendered it easy for Emily to be persuaded to
run away with her lover, and get married. They could not have done a
more indiscreet thing. The whole of Challoner's little fortune, with
the exception of a few hundred dollars, had melted away. His wife's
family refused to be reconciled; and the father and brothers denounced
him as an adventurer and a pauper. His pride and indignation were fully
"Oh, that I might retaliate by riding by them with my wife in my
own coach!" was his foolish and vindictive wish. He took apartments for
himself and wife at an expensive hotel; but his sojourn there was not
long, for his means were quite exhausted a few months after his
marriage. He removed to obscure lodgings; but the insane hope still
possessed him to elevate himself in his external circumstances by some
extraordinary run of good luck, far above the contempt of his wife's
Alas! how true it is that none but the contemptible are
apprehensive of contempt. Had he been possessed by a true, honest
pride, he would have looked down, even in his extreme poverty, upon
those who professed to despise him. He would have shown his superiority
by his calm indifference to their slights. But a false and paltry
ambition made him constantly uneasy and discontented so long as he
could not live in a splendid house, and drive as neat a span of greys
as old Gordon himself. In his impatience to rise above want, he
resorted to the gaming table. At first his success was extraordinary.
In two months he found himself once more the possessor of ten thousand
dollars. But ten times ten thousand would not have satisfied his
ambition. He did not think it worth while even to change his lodgings
in consequence of his good luck. He applied himself more devotedlythan
ever to gaming; but fortune was no longer propitious. The cards were
against him; and they continued so until the evening we have described,
when he found himself stripped of his last dollar, and stooped to
solicit aid from one, who lived on the wages of infamy and guilt.
Such was the noise of the gale, that it was nearly an hour before
he could make himself heard by the inmates of the house. With much
difficulty he persuaded a black maid-servant, whose voice he
distinguished from an upper window, to open the door for his admission,
and then bade her carry his name to her mistress. He walked into a
parlor fronting on the street, where the remains of a coal fire still
shed a flickering light on the walls; and, in a few moments, a female
bearing a candle, and clad in a wrapper of plaided silk, entered the
room. She appeared to be about thirty years old, and in spite of the
inevitable impress, which sin ever leaves upon the female countenance,
there were abundant traces of beauty in her face and figure. Placing
the candle upon the centre-table, she advanced towards her midnight
visitor with both hands extended to greet him, and exclaimed: "Edward!
can it be you?"
"Yes, Augusta," he replied in a sorrowful tone. "We meet once more.
I did not think ever again to enter this house."
"And why not? It is six years since we have met. But I forget, you
are married. At least so I read in the newspapers. But bless me,
Edward! how pale you look! Your hair is covered with snow. Are you ill?
Can I do anything for you?"
"Yes; sit down, and listen to my story. But first tell me, Augusta,
how has the world treated you?"
"Prosperously enough. This house and furnitureare mine; and I have
an account at the bank. My daughter will be an heiress, Edward, and I
mean she shall grace her wealth."
"Indeed! I had forgotten all about little Adelaide. She must be
quite a young lady by this time. Surely—that is to say—I hope you are
bringing her up virtuously."
"Do not doubt it. She has not been in this house since she was four
years old. I have placed her at an excellent boarding-school, and I
mean that all her mother lacks both in accomplishments and morals,
shall be hers. But I would hear something in regard to your own
affairs. What has happened, Edward; and why are you here?"
"I blush while I say it, Augusta—my purpose is to ask for a small
The female started as if surprised; but whatever her secret motives
may have been, she replied: "If it were only for the sake of auld lang
syne, Edward, you shall have what you want. But pray tell me what has
happened? You have more than once profited by my advice; and perhaps I
may help you by words as well as by deeds."
"My story is soon told," replied Challoner. "Did you ever see my
"About a year since she was pointed out to me in Broadway," replied
Augusta. "She seemed a mild, beautiful creature, and disposed as I was
to hate her for having robbed me of you, I could not help feeling pity
as I looked in her pale face, and marked its patient, melancholy
"Ah, Augusta, she is too good for a reprobate like me. When I think
of her uncomplaining temper, her attentive kindness, and her confiding
devotion to myself, I often bitterly feel a consciousness of my
unworthiness. I married at a time when I was little able to support a
wife, and in the faceof the opposition of her whole family. The
stinging contempt which they expressed for me roused my whole soul. 'I
will show them that I can support Emily in the position to which she
has been born,' thought I. For her sake, Augusta, although the fact is
still unknown to her, poor thing, I became a gambler. There, you have
the whole secret of my past miseries, and my present wants. This very
evening I have lost at faro upwards of two thousand dollars—all the
money I possessed in the world!"
"Two thousand dollars! Why, Edward, you could have lived
comfortably on that for at least a year."
"Yes, wretch that I am!" exclaimed he. "And when I had money in
abundance, instead of securing for her comfortable apartments, and
paying for them, I had the baseness to remove to mean and contracted
lodgings, that I might have ample funds with which to speculate at the
gaming-table. And Emily will soon be—a mother!"
"Where do you reside?" inquired the female.
"Truly, I forget the name of the place," said he, "but I have it
written down. Here it is."
He handed her a slip of paper, which she retained.
"And how much money," she added, "will serve your purposes for
"A hundred dollars will be sufficient," said he. "I will give you
my promissory note for the repayment."
"It will answer," she replied; and unlocking a small desk, she drew
a check, while Challoner drew up the note as he had suggested.
"Here, Edward," said she, handing him the check, "you have the
amount you desire. Take my advice, and provide first of all for your
"I will do so," exclaimed he. "Dear Augusta, if I live, you shall
not repent this act of generosity."
The tears stood in his eyes. Your profligates are often
"And now," said the female, "hasten home to your wife. Poor
creature! What must have been her anxiety on your account this dreadful
night! Hark! The City Hall clock strikes one."
Challoner pressed her hand, bade her good night, and quitted the
And how are we to explain conduct so inconsistent on the part of an
abandoned woman? If love were the ruling motive, why should she have
shown so much consideration for her lover's wife? Was it pride—the
pride of assisting an elegant young man about town? Perhaps so. But
then why should not that pride have induced her to attach him once more
to herself? Why send him home to his wife, and bid him look to her
welfare? Perhaps, after all, we do the woman injustice in imputing to
her merely interested motives. Who shall say that it was not a pure
impulse of goodness which prompted her? A momentary triumph of her good
angel? A transient flicker of that "original brightness," which had not
yet wholly gone out in her derogate soul?
Despising himself—his heart torn by contending emotions—Challoner
hurried along the street in the direction of his lodgings. The gale
roared and rattled over his head, and the fine, icy snow whirled, like
a shower of needles, into his face.
"Poor Emily!" muttered he. "What a dreary time she must have had of
it, alone in those old, ricketty apartments! But I will live to repay
her for all the privations she has endured on my account. Yes; I will
yet be rich—honored— envied—"
Challoner never completed the sentence with his lips. At that
moment, as he was turning the corner of a well-known street, a chimney
was hurled into fragments by the blast. The scattered debris struck him
violently on the head, and felled him to the earth. "God forgive me!"
he groaned forth. "My poor wife! my unborn child! Help! I cannot die! I
am not fit to die! God knows I meant to change my—What, ho! Will no
one hear?" He strove to rise; but, as he moved, the blood poured
profusely from his wounds upon the drifted snow. With a mighty effort,
he staggered to his feet, uttered a last cry for help, fell and
expired. The storm howled on, and spread its flaky winding-sheet over
his body; and there he was found, under the incarnadined snow, a
ghastly spectacle, by the early morning light.
Have ye a sense, ye gales, a conscious joy
In beauty, that with such an artful touch
Ye lift her curls and float about her robes?
Seventeen years after the tragical event, which we have narrated,
two young men, equipped for a shooting excursion, were sauntering along
one of the most beautiful portions of that shore, which forms the
Connecticut side of Long Island Sound. They carried fowling-pieces, and
were apparently in pursuit of that delicate little bird, the snipe,
which frequents the salt water sands. But either the game was scarce,
or the sportsmen were indisposed to make very vigilant exertions to
find it.They would occasionally stop, and picking up a handful of the
smooth flat stones, which lay in ridges along the beach, send them
skipping over the smooth surface of the Sound; or they would stand and
watch the progress of some distant steam-boat, as with a black streamer
of smoke issuing from her funnel-pipe, she ploughed the tranquil
At length the wanderers reached a ledge of rocks, which seemed to
offer so tempting a resting-place, that they sat down, and called to
their dogs to crouch at their feet, as if disdaining to seek a farther
acquaintance with the sky birds, who had thus far baffled all their
"Isn't this a bore, Fleetwood?" asked the larger of the two
companions, whose full face and figure seemed to indicate a
predominance of the sensual over the intellectual faculties. "Isn't
this a bore, Fleetwood? I can't imagine how you can tarry in this
stupid place except upon compulsion. If you were dependent as I am upon
a rich, capricious old aunt for your expectations of future affluence,
and if, as one of the conditions of being her heir, you were obliged to
do penance a month or two every summer in her stupid little cottage on
Blackberry Hill,—why, there would be some excuse for you. But here you
are,—just twenty-one, and a free man—with five thousand a year under
your control, and liberty to cut in upon the principal, if you
choose—with no one to say, do this, or do that, come here, or go
there—and no one even to bother you with advice, unless it is old
Snugby your former guardian. By Jove! I wish I were in your situation."
"In my situation, Glenham!" replied the younger man, while a
melancholy smile passed over his countenance. "Without mother, father,
sister, brother! In my situation!"
"Ahem! I should not consider it such a mighty misfortune to be so
deprived," returned Glenham, displacing his shirt-collar, that his
fingers might coquet with a pair of incipient whiskers. "To be
perfectly independent—above the reach of rebuke and
interference—master of one's actions and of a handsome fortune—Jove!
What ingratitude not to be happy!"
"Did I say I was not happy?"
"You seemed to regard your lot, as in no manner preferable to
"True! You have parents, who are fondly attached to you; sisters,
beautiful and affectionate —a brother, who has just entered upon an
honorable professional career, and to whom you can look for guidance
and encouragement. But I—I am literally the last of my race. I know
not one human being, who is bound to me by the ties of consanguinity."
"Happy man!" ejaculated Glenham. "As for me, I have a whole
regiment of country cousins, whom I would like to exchange with you for
your pointer, Veto."
"Indeed, Glenham, it is no light thing to be so alone in the world.
Had I only a sister! Heavens! How I would love her—how I would
cherish— worship her—a sister!"
"Nonsense! With your face, figure and fortune, you can find sisters
enough in the world—ay, more than sisters. But how happens it, my dear
Fleetwood, that you are so unencumbered? Is it possible that there
isn't even one of that delightful and numerous class of individuals,
known as poor relations, who claims alliance with you—some great
grandfather's second cousin's nephew's needy niece, for instance?"
"Not one! Not one!"
"Indeed! If it is not intrusive, I would like toknow by what
strange fortune you have been left so delightfully isolated."
"My story is soon told, and yet it is not wholly devoid of romance.
My grandfather having taken the king's side during the war of our
revolution, was, as soon as our independence was established, stripped
of an estate large enough to be cut up into half a dozen townships. Too
much attached to the country, however, to quit it altogether, he
removed to the West with his family. While sailing down the Ohio in a
flat-bottomed boat, his party was attacked by Indians, and all but my
father, who was then a boy, were massacred. This explains the reason of
my having no relatives on the paternal side."
"But how happens it, that you were equally fortunate on your
"My mother," (and here Fleetwood's lips quivered slightly as he
spoke) "was the only daughter of a French gentleman of high rank, who,
with his wife and their maternal relations were murdered at Lyons by
Collot D'Herbois, in 1793. Coralie, (such was my mother's name,) was
saved by her nurse, who afterwaads escaped with her to New Orleans,
where on the death of her protector, the little girl was adopted by a
company of charitable nuns, by whom she was admirably educated. They
were unable to persuade her, however, to join the ascetic sisterhood.
She had not reached her seventeenth year when my father saw her—an
elopement and marriage were the consequence—and of that union I am the
"Quite a little romance! If I mistake not, you lost both your
parents by shipwreck?"
"Alas, yes! We were bound to Charleston to pass the Spring in a
milder climate. We were wrecked in the Palmetto, off Hatteras. After
the first shock, I knew nothing until I found myself onthe beach with
some one supporting my head and chafing my temples. On learning that
both my parents were lost, I became delirious and continued so for
several days. It is now six years since that disaster, and I have
tutored myself to speak of it with calmness."
"Adventures seem to run in the family."
"I could tell you much more to prove it. But I will finish my story
now that I have got so far, although the catastrophe is already told.
My father, Frederick Fleetwood, whose name, but not whose virtues, I
inherit, accumulated his large property by fortunate speculations in
cotton just after the cessation of the last war. He then came north,
and recovered the most eligible fragment of his ancestral estate on the
Hudson, building the house which you have seen. He was a man of a nice
sense of honor, generous, high-spirited, and full of all noble
impulses. Both he and my mother attached a little too much importance,
I think, to the circumstance of gentle blood. Both could trace back
their lineage to some of the most illustrious personages of England and
France; and both would often make me promise to keep pure and
uncontaminated by unworthy alliances the noble stock from which I
sprang. Their wishes I shall ever regard as sacred, not because I care
for 'the blood of all the Howards,' but because the recollection of
those parental injunctions will ever be stronger in my heart than the
throes of passion."
"Thank you for your story," said Glenham. "But see! What a shot is
there — by the water's edge! Here goes for one more chance! Bang!"
Fleetwood did not look to see the result of his companion's aim;
for before the smoke of the explosion had cleared away, a slight
feminine scream arrested his attention. He turned and saw a young
female on the brow of a small sandy acclivity, in the act of falling
from a spirited horse. He darted to her relief, and caught her in his
arms, while her horse in his fright was twisting round like water as it
leaves a tunnel. Breathless and faint with alarm the lady suffered
Fleetwood to support her for nearly a minute, during which he surveyed
her face with undisguised admiration. A little black velvet cap had
fallen from her head, giving the gazer an opportunity to examine with
all an artist's enthusiasm its matchless proportions —the sweep of
that low but intellectually developed forehead—the light chesnut hair,
that parted from the centre, undulated to the temples and broke into
closely clinging curls—the chiselled loveliness of the features—the
regular and immaculate teeth, which the delicate upper lip, lifted so
as to form Cupid's bow, fully revealed—and the long eyelashes that
curtained the depressed, dark blue balls.
"Who can she be?" muttered Fleetwood. "She is strangely beautiful!
And what a figure!"
Glenham now approached, after having satisfied himself that he had
committed no havoc by his last shot among the birds. "By Jove!" he
exclaimed, as he drew near, "there is Fleetwood, once more in luck;
with his arms about the waist of a pretty woman! How the deuce happens
it, that such adventures never occur to me? I see it all. The horse
took fright at the discharge of my gun—the lady fell—and Fleetwood
was just in time to catch her ere she touched the ground. Confound the
fellow! How he studies her face! How he manages to let the wind blow
her curls against his cheek! And now he puts his hand upon her heart to
see if it beats! And now he places his lips near her own to see if she
breathes! And now he looks at her like a mother on a new-born child. I
do believe the fellow is half in love already. Andnow—the devil! what
is he after now? Ahem! Ahem! Ahem there!"
"What, Glenham, is that you?" exclaimed Fleetwood, arrested by his
companion's satirical cough, in the act of warming the lady's lily-like
cheek with a kiss. "Mount the horse instantly, Glenham, and ride for
assistance to the nearest house. Do not delay. The life of a
fellow-being may depend upon your speed."
"In what part of my eye do you see anything green?" retorted
Glenham, using a school-boy's colloquial vulgarism. "I will hold the
lady, and you shall ride the horse. Come! now prove the sincerity of
"I will prove that by remaining where I am," replied Fleetwood, who
recoiled from entrusting his precious burthen to his companion's care.
"But look—she revives—her breast heaves."
The lady attempted to lift her hand twice, but it fell to her side.
Then she raised it suddenly to her forehead, pressed it for an instant
to her eyes, dropped it, and starting from Fleetwood's support, looked
inquiringly about her.
"Your horse is close by—he was frightened by the firing of a
gun—wheeled, and would have thrown you—but you have escaped
uninjured," said Fleetwood rapidly, and in his tenderest and most
"I remember—and I am indebted to you, sir— am I not?—that my
head was not dashed against some of these rocks?"
"I wish I could say, lady, that I believed your life was in danger,
for the thought of having saved it would have been to me a life-long
joy—but the danger, I am bound to say, was slight. Your horse was
spinning about in this little heap of sand, and, had you fallen, you
would have found a soft resting-place."
"Nonsense, Fleetwood," muttered his companion in a side-whisper, "I
would have protested that her brains were on the point of being dashed
out, when, at the imminent peril of my neck, I rushed to her relief. I
see you don't know how to win a woman."
At this moment an equestrian party of five, consisting of three
young ladies, a female of a certain age, and a black servant with a
gilt band about his hat, made their appearance, having been concealed
hitherto by the ridge of the sand bank.
"As I live, here is Miss Adelaide Winfield parleying with two young
men!" exclaimed the female of a certain age, who, I may as well tell
the reader now, as hereafter, was Miss Holyoke, the keeper of a
boarding-school for "the finishing of young ladies" in the little
village of Soundside, where the scene now lingers.
"And pray, Miss Winfield, may I ask the meaning of all this?"
interrogated Miss Holyoke, reining in her horse, and casting a very
acidulated glance upon the young sportsmen.
Glenham started forward, and, making a respectful obeisance, said:
"Pardon me, Miss Holyoke; if blame rests upon any one it is upon me.
The discharge of my gun frightened the lady's horse, and she would have
been inevitably killed upon the spot, if my friend here, Mr.
Fleetwood—allow me to introduce him, my dear Miss Holyoke; Mr.
Fleetwood, of Fleetwood, New York—as I was saying, the young lady
would have been dashed into splinters if my friend here had not, at the
risk of his own life, seized her horse by the head, and caught her as
she was about being hurled against that rock, which you see there, with
the skeleton by its side."
Glenham's style of beauty was not displeasing to Miss Holyoke; and
his address was calculated toallay her rising indignation. She
dismounted, and, approaching Adelaide, inquired if she had received any
harm from the accident. Her apprehensions were speedily quieted. Beyond
a momentary agitation the young and fair equestrian had experienced no
"Mount your horse, then, Miss Adelaide, and let us proceed
homeward," said the chaperon of the party.
"Allow me the honor of assisting you," said Fleetwood, who, in
silent admiration, had for some moments been contemplating Adelaide.
"Clinton, you will save Mr. Fleetwood the trouble," said Miss
Holyoke waving her hand imperatively, and addressing the black
attendant, who was on his feet holding the recently terrified horse.
Clinton obeyed, and placing his ebony hand for a stepping-stone,
lifted the young lady lightly and dexterously into the saddle.
"May we have the honor to call and inquire into the lady's health
and your own?" asked Glenham, with his most persuasive smile.
"The young ladies of the Holyoke Seminary receive no male visitors
farther removed than first cousins," said the instructress.
Awful Miss Holyoke! At that moment Fleetwood would have given more
for a passport to your good graces than for the freedom of all the
courts of Europe.
Seeing her fair troop all ready for a start, Miss Holyoke called
Clinton to her side, placed a hand upon his shoulder, and mounted into
her saddle. "Forward now, young ladies!" she exclaimed. Adelaide cast
one parting look full of gratitude upon Fleetwood ere she drew the
green veil over her features, made a slight and gracious inclination of
the head, then touching her horse's mane lightly with her riding-whip,
followed the cortege, lessanxious apparently than she had been, to be
"Confound the old prude!" exclaimed Glenham, before the
instructress had well got out of hearing. "If she cannot be
circumvented, however, I am no judge of woman. What are you gazing at,
Fleetwood? You cannot see them, for they're out of sight, as Lord
Burleigh would say. Is little Velvet Cap riding away with your tongue
as well as your heart? Speak, man! Confess! Or, if you can't speak,
give us a shake of your head."
"Who can she be?" ejaculated Fleetwood in a half reverie. "They
called her Adelaide—Adelaide who?"
Fleetwood did not attempt to shoot any more that day. He found a
suddenly awakened sympathy in his breast for wounded birds.
Oh she is fair!
As fair as heaven to look upon! as fair
As ever vision of the Virgin blest,
That weary pilgrim, resting by the fount
Beneath the palm, and dreaming to the tune
Of flowing waters, duped his soul withal.
Adelaide's position at Miss Holyoke's school was far from an
enviable one. Her parentage was unknown. Boys and girls are more quick
even than grown persons to detect aught that is equivocal in the birth
or genealogy of their companions, and wo to the unhappy victim of their
suspicions, if he or she be of a sensitive disposition!
No one, with whom Adelaide was brought in contact, appeared to know
anything concerning her that was disreputable; but all distrusted her
respectability. Miss Holyoke herself, though she had her sex's share of
curiosity upon most subjects, was discreetly cautious how she pursued
her inquiries too far in regard to her pupil. She was fearful lest the
investigation might result to her prejudice; and then Miss Holyoke
might be scrupulous about retaining her in her strictly genteel
establishment. Now there was a proper degree of uncertainty in regard
to the young lady's position. All that the instructress knew, and all
that it concerned her to know, was that her quarter's dues were
punctually paid in advance, and that Adelaide had a larger amount of
spending money than any of her companions. A respectable banker in
Wall-street was the person to address in case an extra supply of money
was at any time wanted, or in the event of the illness of the young
lady. Apprised of thus much, Miss Holyoke, it cannot be denied, had her
own surmises and conclusions; but she maintained an imperturbable
silence on the subject.
And what did Adelaide herself know in regard to her origin and
family? Little more than her instructress and schoolmates. She was now
in her sixteenth year, and had been six years a resident at Soundside
in Miss Holyoke's family. The remembrances she preserved of the period
of her childhood were fleeting and shadowy. She had a faint
recollection of a cottage beside a broad stream; and of a porch, where
she used to sit with two or three little children of her own age and
eat blueberries and milk; and of a lady richly dressed, who used to
stop before the gate in her carriage and take her in her lap and ask
her questions as to the treatment she received. The impressions of
these distant events were for the most part pleasing; and yet the image
of the lady seemed to bealways connected with painful though
indefinable associations. Sometimes Adelaide would persuade herself
that it must all be a dream; and then some little incident or trait
would stand out more salient than the rest from memory's canvass, and
convince her of the reality of the whole.
She remembered well the events of the few years immediately
preceding her transference to her present abode. She had resided in the
family of a Mr. Greutze, a teacher of music in Philadelphia; and there
she had not only been treated with kindness and attention, but had
acquired a ready colloquial knowledge of the German language and
attained considerable proficiency in music. To be sure she learned
little else under his care; but it was with the most poignant regret
that she quitted a roof, where she had heard no other accents than
those of harmony and affection. Soon after her departure from
Philadelphia, the Greutze family, consisting of a husband, wife and two
daughters, broke up their establishment and returned to their native
Germany. She had heard nothing of them for upwards of five years, and
was ignorant of their address.
Up to her thirteenth year Adelaide lived in happy ignorance of any
conjectures that might be interchanged by others in regard to her
parentage. In answer to repeated interrogations which she addressed to
those, under whose protection she might be, it was told her that she
was an orphan; and that the relatives of her parents were in Europe.
She would often ponder intently on these circumstances; but, child as
she was, she never distrusted the ingenuousness of her informers. She
would ask herself in these solitary moments of reflection, "how happens
it that I have neither brother, sister, kinsman or kinswoman, who takes
sufficient interest in me to visit me at least once a year?" Andthen
the remembrance of the richly dressed lady, who used to come in her
carriage every Saturday to see her, would rise to her mind, and give
her new food for reverie and conjecture.
At length the terrible suspicion, which others entertained, was
forced with crushing effect upon her own apprehension. The occasion was
this: Adelaide had been wandering through some of the shady by-lanes of
the village, and returning home, had been summoned into the parlor by
Miss Holyoke. She found a lady present, a stranger to her, who rose
from the piano as she entered.
"Adelaide, my dear," said Miss Holyoke, "here is some new music I
have just received from New York—some waltzes from the famous new
opera of Amilie—will you play them for us?"
"I will try," returned Adelaide. "I cannot always read music
correctly at sight; but this seems to be very simple as well as very
She took her seat at the piano—glanced a moment at the sheet
before her while pulling off her gloves—and then running her fingers
lightly over the keys—went through the whole series of waltzes in a
very correct and spirited style of execution.
When she had concluded, Miss Holyoke turned to the strange lady,
and said: "You see, Miss Ashby, that my pupil plays without hesitation
this music, which you called so difficult, and which you declined
attempting. I fear you are not sufficiently qualified for the office of
musical teacher in the Holyoke Seminary for young ladies."
Miss Ashby bit her lips, and turned a glance full of malice and
hostility upon poor Adelaide, who now began to be painfully conscious
of the comparison in her favor.
A few hours afterwards Adelaide was sitting alone in her little
chamber. She had a strange distaste, this solitary child, for all dark
and gloomycolors. Everything in the room she occupied gave evidence of
this. The walls, window-curtains, chairs, table, bureau, sofa, bed and
coverlid were all of a pure white. The floor had its white cloth. Even
her books were covered with paper of a stainless white. A crystal
champagne glass, holding some white roses, stood upon the white marble
mantel-piece; and Adelaide, dressed in a robe entirely white, with
slippers of a delicate lilac hue, sat in a half recumbent posture,
tapping an ivory paper folder against her lips, and conning a lesson in
She suddenly started, as if a dark cloud had all at once come
between her and the sun. She turned, and saw Miss Ashby, whose whole
attire was intensely funereal, enter the apartment.
"I couldn't leave Soundside without coming to bid you good-bye, my
dear," said the lady, with a smile so constrained and sinister, that
Adelaide instinctively shuddered. She rose, however, and with an air
that spoke high breeding, replied, "Pray be seated."
"I can stop but one moment," said Miss Ashby. "How charmingly you
did play, my dear, to be sure! Is not your mother a piano-forte
"I am an orphan, Miss Ashby," replied Adelaide.
"Poor thing! An orphan! Ahem! That is, your father doesn't claim
you, my dear. Now I should think he would be quite proud of you. But
then society is so dreadfully prejudiced in such cases!"
"What do you mean, Miss Ashby? Speak more plainly," gasped forth
Adelaide, swallowing her heart, which seemed ready to leap from her
breast, so sudden was the shock communicated by the revolting
"Surely, my dear, you are aware that—"
"Aware of what?" exclaimed Adelaide, startingto her feet, her eyes
kindling, and her whole frame dilated with excitement.
"Dear me! You are enough to frighten one, child!" returned Miss
Ashby. "Of course, I supposed that you knew what all the world said of
"And what do the world say?" asked Adelaide, in a subdued tone.
"They say that your father and mother were never married, and that
"Oh, no, no! do not say it!" exclaimed the heart-broken child,
bursting into tears, and covering her face with her hands.
"Dear me! I supposed, of course, that you knew all about it," said
Miss Ashby; and to do her justice this was partially true; but a
feeling of irrepressible envy checked the outburst of her better
feelings. "I must go now," she continued; "or I shall miss the coach
that is to convey me to the steamboat. Pray, don't take on so, child.
You thought you were an orphan—would you not be rejoiced to find that
you have a parent?"
Adelaide looked up from her weeping—her head erect—and her
tear-laden eyes sparkling with a sudden animation. A smile of
indescribable sweetness—such a smile as might play across the lips of
a commissioned seraph while announcing pardon to a sinner—illumined
her features, and returned an answer more eloquent than any that could
have been framed by words, to the interrogation. Even the spiteful Miss
Ashby relented for a moment. But the mischief was done. The humbling
suspicion was awakened, and it must either gather force, or be removed
forever in the mind of Adelaide.
Miss Ashby took her leave; and Adelaide was once more alone. This
child possessed an intelligence beyond her years. Confided from an
infantile age to the care of strangers, nature and her owninstincts
seemed to make amends for the absence of a parent's tender and ever
vigilant superintendence. Conscience was to her in the light of a
mother; or shall we believe that there were good and guardian spirits
about her, who infused into her soul a sense of right and beauty? One
singular habit would seem to countenance this idea. She would daily
arraign herself for real or fancied errors, and impose such penalties
as she deemed suitable. These penalties were always rigidly fulfilled.
Thus she was her own accuser, judge and punisher. And the very freedom
from others' scrutiny and restraint which she enjoyed, made her the
more watchful and severe towards herself.
Constant activity, mental, manual or physical, was one of the first
of duties in her eyes. Every portion of the day had its appropriate
employment. Debarred by the express will of those, who supplied the
means for her education, from no pursuit which agreed with her tastes,
she was allowed to range at will through the fields of German and
English literature. Her long residence in the family of the German
musician, Greutze, had enabled her to render herself as familiar with
his language as with her own; and the works of Jean Paul, Schiller,
Goethe and Klopstock were as well thumbed by her as those of
Shakespeare, Goldsmith, Scott and Byron.
It will not be considered surprising, therefore, that Miss Ashby's
heartless intimation was immediately understood by Adelaide—that she
saw at once the true character, in a worldly point of view, of her
imputed position. Hours flew by, during which she remained lost in
meditation. At length Miss Holyoke came to seek her.
"What is the matter, Adelaide, that you have not come down to
dinner?" she asked, as she entered the room.
"Ah! tell me—tell me, whose and what am I?"exclaimed the agitated
girl, seizing the hand of her instructress.
Miss Holyoke, as has already been seen, knew nothing positive in
regard to her pupil's genealogy. But it now occurred to Adelaide that
the absence of all knowledge upon this point was the best proof in
confirmation of the truth of the suspicion aroused by Miss Ashby's
interrogations. From that moment there was a marked modification of
some of this young girl's traits of character. Agitation of mind was
succeeded by a violent fever, from which she recovered slowly. But her
constitution, though delicate, had much recuperative energy; and it was
at length re-established in all its original purity. Convalescence,
however, was accompanied with change. Naturally social in her
disposition, fluent and communicative in conversation, and quick to
bestow and elicit confidence, she now became shy, reserved and
abstracted. She imagined, and not unjustly, that her schoolmates were
well aware of the suspicion that blurred her reputation. She was too
proud and too generous to involve others in the consequences of
associating with one, whose respectability was doubted. And thus she
kept aloof from all companionship.
But love was a necessity of her nature; and unable to lavish her
exhaustless treasures and manifestations of love upon human kind—for
the whole population of the village was thrifty and healthy—she found
objects for its sheltering care in the brute and vegetable creation. An
old horse turned out in a barren field to starve and die, was sure to
receive food and protection from her hands. She would watch over a
languishing shrub or tree with an almost parental solicitude. She would
shrink from succoring no living creature, however fearful and
revolting. It mattered not whether it was a wounded snake or a
perishing bird. Bothequally claimed her kind offices; for she assigned
the existence of both, in the words of Origen, to "the exuberant
fulness of life in the Deity, which, through the blessed necessity of
his communicative nature, empties itself into all possibilities of
being, as into so many receptacles." And this thought made her regard
the life of the meanest insect or reptile with reverence.
An instance illustrative of the force of this sentiment is worthy
of mention. A noble bull-dog, who went by the name of Cossack, was
condemned to be shot on suspicion of hydrophobia. Adelaide protested
against the sacrifice; for having some acquaintance with the diseases
of animals, she believed that the imputed malady did not exist in this
case. Her appeals, however, were in vain. Cossack must die. A gun
loaded with buck-shot was aimed and fired at his heart. The charge took
effect in his thigh. With one bound the agonized creature broke his
chain. Amid screams of terror the spectators fled—all except Adelaide.
"He will bite you—he is mad," exclaimed the man who had fired the
gun, and who, in his alarm, had swung himself high on the bough of a
Adelaide remained firm; and the dog swaying from side to side,
stood with drooped head, his tongue lolling out and covered with foam,
and the blood oozing from his wound.
"Poor fellow! Cossack! Cossack!" said Adelaide, endeavoring to
attract his attention.
"Escape while you can, you fool-hardy girl!" cried the man with the
gun. "At least, get out of the way, and let me fire again."
Cossack, as if he recognized the meaning of the man's words, lifted
his head, looked imploringly at Adelaide, and dragging himself a few
paces with difficulty, fell at her feet.
"He is mine now," said Adelaide, stooping topat him on the back and
seizing his chain. "The dog has been poisoned—he is not mad," she
continued, looking at his tongue.
Gently but firmly she persisted in her object, until at length it
was agreed that she should take charge of the wounded animal. But how
would she dispose of him? For Cossack could not walk, and all the
bystanders were too much afraid that he would bite to lend their
assistance to remove him. But true kindness is ever fertile in
expedients. In the little enclosure where Adelaide maintained her
superannuated horse was an old sleigh half filled with straw, and
containing parts of an old harness thrown by as useless. By the promise
of a few pennies Adelaide persuaded a butcher's boy to tackle the horse
to the ricketty vehicle and bring him as far as the barred gate. Then
quitting her wounded protegé for a few moments, she opened the gate and
led the horse to where poor Cossack lay panting, but regarding her
movements with evident interest. With considerable effort she lifted
him tenderly into the sleigh, and placed him upon the straw, although
in the act her hands and dress became smeared with blood. Then
fastening the end of the dog's chain securely to the side of the
sleigh, she assured the spectators that there was no longer any danger,
and leading the horse with the vehicle and its contents at his heels
back into the enclosure, she applied herself to the examination of
Cossack's wound and the administration of the proper remedies.
Her heroism and care were, after several months, amply rewarded.
Poor Cossack was crippled in one thigh for life, but he recovered his
health, thus refuting the slander that pronounced him mad. Never did
brute repay human protection with such tokens of gratitude as he ever
afterwards exhibited towards Adelaide. For hours he would lie
extendedwith his head resting on his fore paws, and his big sagacious
eyes lifted so as to observe every change upon her face. His lameness
prevented his following her when she went forth on horseback, but he
would often limp after her in her pedestrian rambles through the alleys
of the forest or by the water's side.
In the frame of mind, which we have described as consequent upon
Adelaide's doubts as to her parentage she reached her sixteenth year,
and the period of her encounter with the two young sportsmen on the
I arise from dreams of thee,
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are burning bright.
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet,
Hath led me—who knows how!—
To thy chamber-window, Sweet.
It cannot be supposed that a young man of Fleetwood's prospects in
life and personal advantages, should have lived so unexposed to peril
as to be likely to be seriously captivated by a casual sight of a
pretty face. But his taste for the beautiful in nature as well as art,
was too refined not to be awakened by the strange loveliness both of
features and expression, which distinguished Adelaide. It had been his
intention to quit Soundside for New York, whither he had been summoned
by his lawyer, the day after his shooting excursion on thebeach. An
interview with Glenham, the morning of that day, caused him to change
"How fares our cousin Hamlet?" cried Glenham, as he caught sight of
Fleetwood in the act of throwing open the folding windows of his
"I humbly thank you, well," was the reply. "What a superb morning!
Are you for the city?"
"By no means. Here's metal more attractive."
"A new discovery, eh? What is it, Glenham?"
"Have you forgotten the fair equestrian—little Velvet Cap? Fickle,
unimpressible, invulnerable champion that you are! Don Giovanni himself
would have been more constant."
"I have not forgotten her," said Fleetwood joining his companion on
the piazza. "I met her last night in my dreams. Would that I might
always sleep if I could have such dreams! But I have a letter from
Dryman telling me I must be in the city to-day. I will be back here
soon—and who knows but I may stumble once more upon the fair unknown?"
"I intend calling and paying my respects this morning."
"You! But, Glenham, what claim have you to call? She doesn't know
"The deuce she doesn't! Didn't I frighten her horse with my gun? I
must call and make an apology."
"But Miss Sunflower—I beg her pardon, Holyoke—expressly told us
that none but the relatives of the pupils were allowed to visit them."
"Is it possible, my dear fellow, that you are so exceedingly
verdant as to mind such a prohibition, where a pretty girl is
"If you go, I will stay and go too," said Fleetwood.
"Bravo, Fred!" returned Glenham. "I begin tothink that you are
really in for it. But I shall cut you out. There is no chance for you
whatever, my dear boy. I have got to pass a whole month longer at
Blackberry Hill—a whole month—with nothing to do, if I choose, but
make love. I look upon the appearance of the incognita, under these
circumstances, as little less than providential."
"She is not a woman to be insulted," said Fleetwood with sudden
emotion, for there was something in the tone of assurance of his
companion, which jarred most ungraciously upon his feelings.
"I wonder who she is, and who her papa is, and whether he is
respectable, that is, lives upon the interest of his money," said
Glenham, not noticing his companion's remark. "But come;" he
continued—"the Holyoke Seminary is at least three miles distant—let
us mount our horses and set forth. This being a Saturday, we shall be
likely to find that there is an intermission of the school."
Fleetwood complied with the suggestion. But he felt in no mood for
talking, on the road. If any remarks were made they came from Glenham,
and would hardly add by their repetition any contributions of value to
our ethical literature.
Arriving at the gate of the Seminary, the young men tied their
horses and passed under an arch of old, umbrageous elms towards the
house. Glenham, who naturally took precedence in impudence, led the
way. As they approached the piazza the tones of a piano accompanied by
a female voice arrested their attention and their steps. A song from
"Amilie," beginning "To the vine-feast" was recognized at once by
Fleetwood. He was charmed with the animation and enthusiasm thrown into
it by the singer. He half wished that she might be Adelaide. A step
farther, and he found that his wish was granted.
On hearing footsteps she rose to quit the apartment. Seeing her
about to escape, Glenham, without more ado, threw open the front door,
entered the room, and confronted her with a profound bow. Adelaide did
not recognize the gentleman, and quietly remarking that she would order
the servant to send Miss Holyoke to him, she continued her steps
towards the door.
"The gentleman who saved your life, Mr. Fleetwood!" said Glenham,
pointing towards his companion, who at this moment entered, and who,
half abashed at the audacious example he had unreflectingly followed,
bowed respectfully and said: "Being about to leave this place for the
city. I could not relinquish the pleasure of satisfying myself in
person that you had received no injury from yesterday's accident."
"And I, Miss Winfield," (Glenham had been examining the corners of
a handkerchief she had left on the piano,) "I could not rest till I had
apologised for being the unfortunate cause of your horse's flight. From
this time forth I forswear shooting."
"Really, gentlemen"—said Adelaide; but the door opened, as she
began, and in swept Miss Holyoke. From the expression of her face, on
seeing the visitors, Glenham perceived at once that an extraordinary
propitiation was necessary. Never did he display to more advantage his
gift of impromptu lying.
"Ahem! I have called, Miss Holyoke," he said, with a look of grave
importance—"I have called at the request of two or three fashionable
families of my acquaintance in New York to learn your terms of tuition,
and inquire into the nature of the studies pursued at your far-famed
The expression of acerbity and indignant inquiry on the lady's face
at once gave place to one of gracious affability.
"Will you be seated, gentlemen," she said with a condescending
"Mr. Fleetwood, madam, you already know, I believe," said Glenham.
"I had the honor to introduce him to you on the beach. Mr. Fleetwood,
may I ask you to do a similar kind office for me?"
"Certainly, certainly," murmured Fleetwood, dismayed at his
companion's assurance. "This is Mr. Glenham, madam; he belongs to one
of our oldest New York families, and his aunt's country seat is on that
hill—Blackberry Hill—which you see at some four miles' distance."
"I have often heard of Miss Glenham," said Miss Holyoke, for whom
as an old maid she felt no little sympathy.
"Had she not been too infirm, she would have visited you herself on
this errand," interrupted Glenham. "She begged me to present her
respects, and to say that she would be most happy to receive you at
"She does me too much honor," simpered Miss Holyoke; and then,
seeing that Fleetwood was undertaking to engage Adelaide in
conversation, she exclaimed: "Adelaide, you may go to your studies;"
but a second consideration, not altogether disinterested in its nature,
occurred to Miss Holyoke. She could not forbear reflecting that so
creditable a specimen as Adelaide, of what she was pleased to consider
the fruits of her instruction, would serve to impress Glenham favorably
as to the character and advantages of her school. "You may remain,
Adelaide, upon the whole," added the instructress. And then a little
embarrassed as to whether she should violate a rule or commit an
indecorum she concluded by introducing "Miss Winfield" to both the
With unfeigned reluctance, Adelaide remained. Shy as she was of
forming acquaintances amongfemales, it was natural that for the same
cause she should be far more reserved towards individuals of the other
sex. There was something, however, in the circumstances under which
Fleetwood approached her, and in his grace and respectfulness of
manner, which rendered her more than usually incautious as soon as she
became interested in conversation. Wishing to measure the extent of her
literary attainments, Fleetwood took occasion to allude to a new and
elegant translation of Goethe's Faust, which had just appeared. He
asked Adelaide if she had seen it. She replied that she had not, and
added that the man who could produce an adequate translation of Faust
must have the genius to write a poem equal to the original. "Then you
read the original?" asked Fleetwood, putting his question in German, of
which he had a smattering. To his surprise Adelaide replied in the same
tongue, with so pure an accent, and so much fluency, that he
inadvertently exclaimed: "Then you are yourself a German?" "Not so."
replied Adelaide; "but I lived some years in a German family."
The conversation turned upon music; and Adelaide discoursed upon
the subject in a vein of originality and enthusiasm, which convinced
her hearer that she had given it her profound and well directed study.
Of all the great masters Mozart was her favorite. She regarded him as
bearing the same relation to Beethoven that Shakspeare did to Milton.
Bellini she considered the Tom Moore of composers; Rossini the Byron.
Little had Fleetwood imagined that accompanied with so much
personal loveliness he should find so much good sense, talent and
vivacity. He was charmed in spite of himself; and when Glenham rose,
and signified to him that it was time to depart, for that they had been
there half an hour, he was onthe point of exclaiming, "then it is the
shortest half hour that I ever knew!"
As soon as they were in their saddles, Glenham began: "Acknowledge,
Fleetwood, that I am the most generous man alive."
"Say the most audacious, and you will not be far from the truth,"
was the reply.
"Is this all the gratitude I get for keeping that old woman in a
sweet humor, while you undertook to commend yourself to the good graces
of the young one? But, no matter! My turn will come soon. I lay my
foundations broad and deep. I shall attack the enemy from an ambuscade.
I have already made wonderful progress. Will you believe it, Fleetwood?
I am invited to make one of the board of examiners at the next
exhibition of the school."
"Did you find out anything about her?" asked Fleetwood.
"About the incognita? No. Nothing very satisfactory. Miss Holyoke
twice evaded my question as to who the girl was and where she came
from. I shouldn't wonder if she were an heiress from this
"She is beautiful—very beautiful—and high-spirited too—I could
see that. Do you know, Glenham, that I am half in love?"
"You don't say so! What will you give me for not coming in your
"Pshaw! I will let her know before to-morrow that I am her admirer.
Let me see! Could we not get up a serenade?"
"Nothing easier. You have only to drive to Norwalk, and engage the
band that came down yesterday in the steamboat."
"I will do it at once," exclaimed Fleetwood.
"That is right," said his companion. "And I will take the credit of
the thing," he added, sotto voce.
About one o'clock the next morning, a strain of wind music under
Adelaide's window disturbed the deep and solemn stillness of the hour.
For some moments her waking faculties seemed to struggle with a sense
of Elysian sweetness, in which her spirit sought to be detained. An
undetermined twilight of the mind, between sleeping and waking,
succeeded; for a moment her soul was on tiptoe, as it were, all
faculties merged in that of hearing. At length her eyes opened. She was
awake. The serenaders were playing "Oft in the stilly night." She
arose, drew a shawl about her shoulders, and looked from the window,
which she had left partly open on retiring. Half a dozen musicians were
grouped under a tree. Apart from them, on a patch of moonlight that
fell upon the flag-stones leading to the front door, stood a figure,
which she recognised at once as that of Fleetwood. He had a guitar in
his hand, and seemed to catch sight of her as she looked forth, for he
threw off his cap, and bowed, and as the music terminated at that
instant he lifted his guitar and sang:—
In the silence of the night
In the hush of wave and tree,
Beneath the moon's pale light
I come, fair one, to thee.
Thy image will not fade
From the heart it hath imprest;
'Twill linger, Adelaide,
E'en though it be unblest.
For I see that thou art fair,
And I feel that thou art good;
And thy soul hath treasures rare,
Too rare for solitude.
Ah! while I breathe thy name,
Let not my song offend;
If you light the censer's flame,
The incense must ascend.
He ceased, and looked to receive some token that his appeal was not
unheeded. But a white curtain was dropped where he before caught a
glimpse of Adelaide's figure. There was certainly no encouragement to a
lover in this sign. The band played a few more popular airs, and then
the whole party retired, Fleetwood more than ever enamored because of
the discouragement he had encountered.
And what became of Adelaide? Acutely alive to the influences of
music, and a critical judge, she had listened to the serenade with
emotions of delight, such as she had never before experienced. But it
was not her taste for art alone that was gratified on this occasion.
All the finer sensibilities of her nature were touched. For some
minutes after the serenaders had departed she sat lost in a reverie.
Her eyes dilated—her breast heaved—and a proud smile sat throned upon
her lips—as if visions of transcendant beauty had been suddenly
revealed. Then, as if they had been as quickly withdrawn, her
countenance fell. She rose, and looking upwards with an expression of
unutterable despair, buried her face in her hands, and gave vent to her
tears. The spell of young romance was at an end. The reality that
succeeded was too dark and cold.
Modern science has proved that there are persons with a nervous
organization so wonderfully delicate, that they form correct
impressions instantaneously in regard to the character of those with
whom they are brought in contact. A sort of instinct like that which
makes a dog slink away from the person who is about to strike him,
although no outward premonitory sign of the act has been given, seems
to tell them whom to avoid and whom to trust. Well may Adelaide have
been startled, therefore, when she awoke to a consciousness ofthe
direction in which the needle of her heart's compass was now pointing.
"Let me shun these dreams before it is too late," she hoarsely
whispered, while her frame involuntarily shuddered. "They can never be
realised by one who is a —. Merciful God, why was I born? The
endearing amenities of home are not for me; the ties of consanguinity
do not exist—and love, should I ever feel it, can lead only to anguish
and life-long wretchedness!"
And then, as if struck with contrition for these repining thoughts,
she poured out her soul in a prayer to heaven for forgiveness. It was
not till the crimson of sunrise had mingled with the waning light of
the moon, that she sank into a calm and dreamless sleep.
Here is my hand, and here I firmly vow—
Never to woo her more; but do forswear her,
As one unworthy all the former favors
That I have fondly flatter'd her withal.
At the breakfast table the next morning the event of the serenade
was a matter of general remark among the pupils. Miss Holyoke had
fortunately slept through it all; and although a little scandalised by
the interest which the young ladies of her establishment seemed to take
in the affair, she did not attach to it that importance, which it would
seem to merit. No one for an instant imagined that the compliment was
intended for Adelaide. She alone had heard her name breathed in the
serenade. Indeed, several of the elder girls looked very mysterious, as
if to say as plainly as they could by looks, "we could tell, if we
would, for whom it was all designed."
It would be unnecessary to relate with minuteness, all the
incidents which forced upon Fleetwood's mind the conviction that not
only was the state of Adelaide's feelings unfavorable to himself, but
that she regarded Glenham with a flattering degree of partiality. Let
it not be inferred from this that Fleetwood had committed himself by a
formal offer of his hand. The remembrance of those parental
injunctions, to which we have alluded, would alone have been
sufficiently potent to deter him from such inconsiderate haste; and no
man of sagacity need run the hazard of a verbal refusal where he is
dealing with a woman of candor and refinement. There are a thousand
delicate waysby which she will signify to him that his attentions are
The day after the serenade being the Sabbath, Fleetwood attended
the village church in the hope of finding an opportunity of forwarding
his acquaintance with Adelaide. After service was over he joined her;
and the road homeward being muddy from a recent shower, he offered his
arm by way of guide. This she declined. Shortly afterwards they were
joined by Glenham, who also proffered his arm, when much to his
companion's surprise, it was accepted. A little more knowledge of the
mysteries of the female heart would have caused Fleetwood to put a
different construction upon this act, but as it was, he regarded it at
the moment as a decided token of preference. Other indications equally
significant followed. Add to these, Glenham invariably boasted of his
rapid success; and, at length, Fleetwood, unable to elicit a faint sign
of encouragement, resolved, after many a heart-pang, to abandon the
trial. Love requires some hope, however small, for its aliment; and he
had as yet received none. After remaining some ten days longer at
Soundside, during which Glenham had so far mollified Miss Holyoke that
she interposed no obstacle to their visits, Fleetwood called to take a
final farewell of Adelaide.
On his way he encountered Glenham.
"You seem in bad humor, Glenham? What is the matter?"
"We have been barking up the wrong tree, Fred, puppies that we have
"Speak for yourself, my dear fellow. Explain."
"Having reason to believe that our incognita was an heiress, I made
her an offer of my hand this morning, and—can you conceive it?—the
girl had the assurance to refuse me most unhesitatingly."
"Impossible!" exclaimed Fleetwood, his eyes sparkling with delight.
"You needn't look so well pleased, my boy. You will not have her
even if you could when you hear all."
In accounting for Glenham's conduct, it should be borne in mind
that Adelaide's singular personal attractions were of a character to
make the most frigid heart beat with emotion in her presence. Glenham
was as seriously in love as his sensual nature would permit,
notwithstanding the pretence that his belief that the girl was an
heiress was the main motive of his offer. Fleetwood, supposing that he
was sincere in this profession, naturally felt no pity for his
discomfiture; and exulted in the thought that Adelaide might yet be
"What do you mean by that?" he asked in reply to Glenham's last
"There is a stain upon her escutcheon—the bar sinister—" muttered
"What! Do you mean to say she is —"
"Ay, it is a deplorable fact. Her father and mother were never
married; and considering the existing prejudices of society, I think we
had better cut her acquaintance."
"Poor girl! poor girl!"
"Poor girl! Nonsense! She ought to be amenable to the law for
procuring lovers under a false pretence—under the pretence that she
was a lady."
"And so she is, and ever must be!" exclaimed Fleetwood with
animation; "a lady by nature's own stamp, which no outward circumstance
can ever efface! Did we not thrust ourselves upon her acquaintance in
spite of all rebuffs? Has she ever by a look or word encouraged our
"Stop, stop," interposed Glenham; "you forget, my dear fellow, the
day she refused your arm and took mine."
"That act may be construed in two different ways," replied
"What! Do you pretend to say that she has not all along encouraged
me in preference to yourself?"
"I know not what to think," mused Fleetwood, in whose mind some dim
notions of the true state of the case began to dawn. "Poor Adelaide!
beautiful, accomplished, high-bred—is she then an outcast from that
society which she is so fitted to adorn? Poor girl! I can now imagine
why she has repelled my advances; why she has avoided extending the
slightest encouragement to my attentions. But now the gulf between us
"Of course," continued Glenham, "no gentleman would now think of
making love to her with any matrimonial intentions. But I shall keep up
the acquaintance pour passer le temps. It would be impossible, of
course, for me now to occupy the relation of a husband; but I may
persuade her to place herself under my protection nevertheless, one of
Fleetwood started as if a venomous reptile had touched his flesh
with its cold slime. He conceived a sort of loathing for his companion,
indicated rather by looks than words.
"Surely, Glenham," said he, "you wouldn't be such a craven villain
as to approach the unfortunate girl with any other thoughts than those
of kindness and respect?"
"Be more choice in the epithets you apply to conduct, which you
assume as possible on my part," retorted Glenham.
"I am glad to hear you speak of it as an assumption," replied
Fleetwood. "Come, come; we will not quarrel. You can now see that the
girl had good reason to refuse you; and your self-complacency need not
suffer in the retrospect. As for myself I was on my way to take leave
of her—a finalone it is likely to be now. Let us not seek, Glenham, to
add to the misfortunes, which her very birth imposed upon her. By
heavens! since I cannot be her lover, I will be her brother, if she
will let me, and I can occupy the position without harm to her
"A brother!" sneered Glenham. "Truly it is quite refreshing to meet
with such verdure in a young man with ten thousand a-year."
"Well, as I said before, we will not quarrel," continued Fleetwood,
with an evident desire to get rid of his companion. "Have you any
commands for the city? I leave this afternoon in the Bridgeport boat."
"Farewell, don't be too fraternal, Fleetwood," said Glenham,
turning away with a smile, which his companion did not altogether like.
Fleetwood walked on. The revelations he had just received in regard
to Adelaide awakened in his mind a succession of conflicting thoughts.
First came an emotion of joy at the recollection of Glenham's
dismissal. Then followed the misgiving, that she may have loved while
she refused him, and that the cause of the refusal was merely her
unfortunate position in a social point of view. And lastly occurred the
despairing consideration of the insuperable bar, which this latter
circumstance placed to his own union with her. Could he be so
neglectful of parental prejudices and injunctions, as to entertain for
a moment the idea of wedding one, who was a Pariah by birth? Should he,
the last of his race, although tracing back his lineage to the best
blood of England and France, should he select for the mother of his
children one, upon whose genealogy charity would always have to drop
her veil? The impracticability of the thing effaced the last vestige of
hope from his heart.
In the midst of these ruminations he approached a narrow grove of
pines, which bordered on one side the play-ground attached to Miss
Holyoke's "Seminary for Young Ladies." The weather was warm, and he
paused under the shade of a tree to rest himself. Suddenly a troop of
girls, amid shouts and laughter, came forth with bows and arrows and
dressed in archery costumes. One of them carried a target attached to a
pointed staff, the end of which she thrust firmly in the ground. And
now began the trials of skill. As every successive arrow fell wide of
the mark, a peal of girlish laughter greeted the failure. The general
mirth was at its height, when Fleetwood saw a new candidate approaching
the scene of action. She was dressed partially in white, a dark green
boddice setting off to advantage the upper portion of her figure. A
quiver filled with arrows was slung gracefully over her shoulders, and
she carried a bended bow with an arrow set in the string in her hands.
A straw hat afforded protection to her face from the sun. She was
followed by a lame dog, which limped after her with difficulty.
Fleetwood at once recognized Adelaide in the new comer.
But however welcome her appearance might be to him, it seemed to
produce a very different effect upon the young girls, who occupied the
playground. They at once checked their noisy ebullitions of mirth,
withdrew from their sports, and gathered about one of their number,
who, as Adelaide approached, led her companions in an opposite
direction towards the house. It was not until Adelaide had reached the
archery ground, that she seemed to be aware of its abandonment by her
schoolmates and of the cause of their departure. And then she
mechanically dropped the bow from her hands, and slowly snapping the
arrow, which she held, into pieces, flung them upon the ground at her
feet. An expression of deep sorrow, unmingledwith one taint of anger,
came over her face. An old apple-tree, scathed and leafless, offered
its bent trunk for a support. She drooped her forehead upon its rough
bark, and lifting her hand as if to keep back the tears that threatened
to gush forth, gave way to bitter reflections.
Unseen, but seeing, Fleetwood watched her every movement,
indescribably graceful and picturesque as it was. His indignation had
been aroused by the unfeeling conduct of those who had shunned her
presence. His intensest sympathies were at once awakened in her behalf.
She was alone in the wide world—perhaps, like himself, without a
relative. She was avoided by those who were immeasurably her inferiors
in every external and internal grace. Why should he pause? Why should
he not fly to her side, and pour out the natural promptings of his
heart in her ear? Ah, Fleetwood! It is not argument—it is not
generosity —it is not philanthropy, that impels you. You are in love,
man—and there is no imprudence, of which you would not be guilty,
rather than be shut out from the haven of your hopes.
I fear it is a rash
And passionate resolve that thou hast made;
But how should I admonish me, myself
So great a winner by thy desperate play?
Leaping over the stone wall, which separated him from the field
wherein she stood, he approached, and accosted her by name. Adelaide
started, and turned upon him a face, from which the traces of tears had
not yet disappeared. Cossack, the wounded dog, whose history we have
already given, returned from barking after the departing female troop,
of whose unkindness towards his mistress he seemed to be aware, and,
with a suppressed growl placed himself by her side and looked
threateningly at the stranger.
"When I left my inn," said Fleetwood, "it was with the intention of
bidding you farewell, Miss Adelaide, and quitting this place for the
city this afternoon."
"And have you changed your intention?" inquired Adelaide,
endeavoring to force a smile, and to make firm the tremulous tones of
"Yes; a spectacle I have just witnessed has induced me to change my
"Indeed! To what do you allude?"
"To the conduct of those of your own sex, who abandoned this spot
as you approached."
"And how can it be that you are affected by conduct of theirs?"
"I have been too hasty—I have offended you?"
"Ah, Adelaide! Why should I disguise feelings,which I know to be
honorable and pure? I saw that you were shunned—shunned by those who
were unworthy to be your handmaidens—and I knew the cause."
"Well, then, my unhappy story is known to you. So be it. I would be
known to none, to whom it is not known."
"And what has been the effect of that knowledge of your situation
upon me, Adelaide? It has impelled me to offer you, as I do now, that
protection, which you so much require—the protection of a husband?"
With a glance of utter amazement, Adelaide regarded the speaker for
some moments in silence. It seemed so like a dream—or the miraculous
fulfilment of one—that, which she had heard fall from his lips!
"Yes, Adelaide," continued Fleetwood; "I have weighed this matter
He paused, while a series of cross questions were put to him
interiorly, by some impertinent sprite, who happened to be passing,
'though invisible to the material sight' at the time. "That sounds to
me very much like a lie," said the sprite. "Is it?" asked Fleetwood,
who was scrupulous in his regard for the truth. "To be sure it is,"
said the sprite emphatically; "you know very well, that not five
minutes have elapsed since the intention, which you now call
deliberate, entered your head. Be more careful, sir, in your
assertions, or I and other clever fellows, who now do you good turns
when you least think of it, will cut your acquaintance." "I believe you
are right, sir," returned Fleetwood with humility. "Must I retract?"
"To be sure you must." "It will be awkward." "I don't care for that."
"Then here goes!"
"Pardon me," resumed Fleetwood, and Adelaide's bosom heaved while
he spoke—"deliberately wasnot the word I should have used. I cannot
have weighed this matter deliberately, for it is but within a few
minutes that I have formed the resolution, which my words have
conveyed—but I have weighed it in the scales of unerring instinct, of
conscience, of earnest and well-grounded affection. I love you,
Adelaide—I never knew how well till I saw you subjected to an
indignity from those, whom no outward circumstance can ever make your
Adelaide had apparently made an effort to speak during the brief
pauses in these remarks, but though her lips moved, agitation prevented
their utterance from being heard. At length, with a negative motion of
the head, she said: "This is language, to which I should not listen and
which you should not utter."
"And why not?"
"Ah, Sir, truth speaks in your tones and beams in your looks. I
feel that you are sincere, and I thank you for—may I call it?—the
romantic generosity of your offer. But you are young. We are both
young. Yet I realize, perhaps, more justly than you, the evils and
mischiefs of my position. Heaven forbid that I should make you a
partaker in them—that I should drag you down to the ignominious level,
socially speaking, where I must ever rest as contentedly as I may! Your
prospects in life would be blighted by an association with me —the
child of shame—whose parentage is unknown, and may be both guilty and
"Ah, Adelaide, you are as God made you, and I am contented with his
marvellous handiwork. I care not for the sins of your progenitors. Were
they greater than the heart of man can conceive, still they would be
expiated in the virtues of their offspring."
"You speak with enthusiasm, and that makes medistrust your
judgment. Think of the grief and misery you would bring upon your
parents and friends by such an alliance. Indeed, Sir—do not distress
me by further importunities."
"Hear me, Adelaide. I know not the being, in whose veins runs blood
kindred to my own. I have neither father, mother, brother nor sister. I
have not a single relative, to my knowledge, on the face of the earth."
Adelaide started and trembled, and her breath came quick and heavy.
A mountain of objections was removed by this avowal.
"But you have friends, who love, who esteem you," she replied,
after a pause. "You have your way to make in the world—honors to
win—a position to attain. Alas! You would find me a continual
impediment to your advancement. I have been sinful in arguing with you
thus—in admitting the possibility of an event, to which in the
generous enthusiasm of the moment you look forward, but which in your
calmer moments, you will regard as I do, impracticable and wrong. Now,
leave me. It is unmaidenly in me to admit you to farther discourse on a
subject like this."
"Nay, we part not thus. Think you, Adelaide, that in any of my
moments, however calm, I could be such a sordid calculator as to weigh
the pitiful prospect of getting on in the world (that is the phrase, I
believe) against the fulfilment of an honorable and well-founded
attachment? But your concern for my interests is superfluous. I am
independent of the world and its opinions. I prize the smile of my own
conscience more than all its honors, all its gifts. It can neither
bestow nor take away aught for which I care—unless you are so
needlessly a coward, either on my account or your own, as to fear its
frown. Stay yet a moment; and do not call my zeal imprudence. Ah, the
heartis as likely to be right as the head, in deciding upon critical
steps in a man's life. I am placed by a large and secure income, far
above the caprices of fortune and the world's favor; and were I
not—had I nothing but my hands and my head, with which to procure a
support—I know not that my course would be different. I am willing to
confide our case to the pastor of this little parish, Mr. Lilburne, to
whom I have letters from my lawyer, and who, I am convinced, from the
sentiments I have heard fall from his lips, will approve of our union."
Adelaide started at this last word. She was sorely tried. The color
came to her face, and fled as quickly. Her eyes were fixed upon the
ground. Her heart beat with violence. She could not speak. Fleetwood
took her hand. It lingered in his for a moment, and was then gradually
"And why should we not go hand in hand for the remainder of our
pilgrimage?" he asked. "Why should we not supply to each other the
place of kindred and friends—destitute as we both are of those ties of
consanguinity, for which the isolated heart so yearns? Ah, Adelaide!
How often have I wished, that I had but a sister—a sister a few years
younger than myself—about your age. What delight, I have thought, to
receive her little confidences—to execute her little commissions—to
provide instructors for her, and have her perfected in every ennobling
accomplishment—to instil none but high and generous thoughts and
opinions—to watch over her health, physical and moral—and to see in
the hearts of both, the growth of an affection immortal as the soul!
Will you not be to me something even more than I ever expected in a
And still no reply came from Adelaide's lips.
"Indeed I cannot take a refusal," continued Fleetwood. "For my
sake, for your own, I must insist upon pressing my suit. Why should we
not atonce unite our fates? Pardon me if I have not grounds for saying
that your present situation is irksome and distressing. Isolated as I
am in this world, my own is hardly less enviable. The love that might
have been dissipated among kindred, is concentrated all upon you. You
shall supply the place of parents, sisters, brothers. Nay, droop not
thus, my Adelaide. Look up; and say that you will be my wife. What
should oppose or delay our marriage? Are you fond of travelling? We
will pass the autumn in a trip to Niagara and the lakes, and next
November shall find us in the South of Europe. My delights, my studies,
my tastes, my charities shall be yours, and yours shall be mine. What
treasures will we store up for memory to ponder over in our maturer
years! Our first impressions of all that is grand in nature and art,
shall be simultaneous. Hand in hand we will meet dangers and
adventures; and if we ever have opportunities of playing the good
Samaritan on the highway of life, it shall be with one impulse of
beneficence and ministering love. Speak, Adelaide; shall it not be
He took her hand. It was not now withdrawn. He gazed in her face.
It was pale; but what a glance of earnest, heart-surrendering
affection, of triumphant and resistless love, told him that his victory
was secure! She remained speechless with emotion; but at length her
full heart found relief in tears. Gradually she became strong again,
and taking her lover's arm, they strolled towards the sombre aisles of
an adjoining forest of pines, and there confided to each other their
hopes and fears.
"And have you no recollection of any one, who claims the authority
of a parent over you?" asked Fleetwood.
"It must now be upwards of twelve years," repliedAdelaide, "since
any one, who I had reason to suppose was interested in my lot, came
personally to see and question me. I remember, when quite a child,
dwelling in a quiet little cottage by the river-side; and I can recall
the face of a woman, who used to come occasionally in her carriage and
ask me if I was well treated, and if I was contented with my home.
"And have you reason to suppose that this woman was your mother?"
"I have often asked myself the question; but have never been able
to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion."
"Do you not remember some tokens of tenderness and affection, which
none but a mother would have been likely to display?"
"She always treated me kindly, and yet I do not remember looking
for her arrival with much eagerness of expectation; nor, when she
discontinued her visits altogether, did I repine. And yet who but a
mother could have shown so much interest? Perhaps she scrupulously
avoided, for both our sakes, awakening any deep affection on either
"My own Adelaide, under the peculiar circumstances of your
situation, you are surely justified in acting as if you were perfectly
independent of parental consultations. Your own principles, impulses
and affections must be your guide. Trust yourself to them, and I am
sure you cannot go wrong. Now listen to my plans. This is Saturday.
Precisely one week from to-day I will return, and we will be married.
Nay, do not tremble. It is well that it should be thus. There shall be
no concealment, no delay. You shall on that day, but not till then,
announce to Miss Holyoke our intentions. I will be accompanied by two
female friends and their husbands, who will lend respectabilityand
authority to our union. They are women of generous impulses and strong
good sense, who, I am sure, will approve my choice. It may be that the
persons having authority over you will be angry at the step, and cut
off the support which they have hitherto supplied. But you cannot
regard that as any objection. If they have your interests truly at
heart, they will be gratified when they learn the true state of the
case. Now, say, Adelaide, that you consent; say that it shall be as I
propose; and that next Saturday shall find you my wife?"
Adelaide looked frankly up in his face, and gave him her hand. She
was resolved not to be outdone in generosity.
"Be it as you will," she said. "I am yours henceforth—forever."
"Bless you, Adelaide, for those words. And now, farewell! I see,
through the leaves, your companions returning to the play-ground. I
will take leave of you here. Farewell!"
He held both her hands in his while he spoke, and they stood face
to face. They entrusted to their eyes the language of endearment their
lips could not utter. Then lifting her hands, Fleetwood allowed them to
drop upon his shoulders, while he clasped her in a first, hurried
embrace, and sealed upon her lips a pure and sacred token of his
affection. Adelaide's face and neck became crimson, but she did not
speak; and Fleetwood, after one more deep and earnest farewell, leaped
over an adjoining wall, and was soon in the dusty road.
Adelaide watched his departing figure till it was lost to sight.
Her tears fell profusely, but they were tears of exultation and joy.
Slowly and thoughtfully she strolled by a circuitous route homeward.
Leaving Cossack to bask in the sunshineon the front door-step, she
sought the little apartment, with which so many associations, sorrowful
and bright, were connected. She recalled the night of the serenade, the
melody to which she had delightedly listened, and the desperate energy
with which she had shunned those dreams, the realization of which now
seemed near at hand. How different was her present mental mood, while
"Hope, enchanted, smiled and waved her golden hair."
Reclining on the sofa, with the fingers of one hand twined
carelessly through the rich locks about her temple, which rested on the
palm, she listlessly watched the shadows of the leaves of a neighboring
tree dancing across her curtain, and gave herself up the while to
joyous contemplations. What a change had one little hour wrought in her
destiny! She was no longer isolated in the world, shunned, sneered at,
and subjected to indignities even from the lips of menials. She was
beloved— and by one to whom she could render up in return the whole
exhaustless wealth of affection, of which her nature was capable. What
were the scoffs of the world henceforth to her? "Oh, let them come,"
thought she, "that I may show him how little I regard them while
blessed with his smiles! With what ever vigilant fondness will I watch
over his happiness! How will I lend fleetness to the wings of every
moment, that he may sigh only when deprived of my ministrations! How
will I study to repay his generosity, his liberal and unquestioning
love! Indeed the happiness in store for me as his wife seems too great,
too bewildering for realization. And yet there is no cloud upon the
horizon; for who that cared for my welfare could oppose this alliance?
Yes; I am now to be repaid for my years of solitude, unloving and
unloved; for theabsence of kindred and friends. And who would not
endure all that I have endured, and more, for such a requital? Oh, goal
of my hopes! Oh, object of my unchanging and undying love! To thy
welfare I henceforth devote myself! Thou hast been generous beyond what
I believed man could be, and thou shalt find me faithful, constant,
affectionate and zealous to please beyond what woman has ever been!"
Adelaide looked up, as if to invoke surrounding spirits to bear
witness to the internal vow; but at that moment a sound in the
court-yard made her start. It was merely the noise of carriage wheels
grating over a newly gravelled walk that led to the house; but she
thought she had never heard aught so harsh and dissonant. As they
rolled on, they seemed to crush the newly-sprung flowers of hope in her
heart. Who could the new comer be?
She looked from the window. She saw a woman, who was a stranger to
her, descend from the vehicle. Her face seemed to Adelaide like a face
she had seen in some unhappy and dimly remembered dream. She shuddered
while she gazed— and then awaited the result with a sort of vague
conviction that a crisis in her destiny was approaching.
And thy heart Enlarged by its new sympathy with one, Grew bountiful
Fleetwood did not defer his departure. A few hours after taking
leave of Adelaide, he was pacing the deck of one of the steamboats that
ply between the city of New York and the many beautiful villages that
look out upon the waters of the Sound. His thoughts were of the sudden
and unexpected step he had taken towards matrimony, and they of course
partook of that rose-colored hue, with which love ever imbues
surrounding objects. He half regretted that he had not brought Adelaide
with him as his wife. Strangely tender visions of her loveliness, her
forlorn situation, her grace and genius flitted through his mind, until
he reproached himself with having forsaken her even for the few days
during which it was his intention to be absent. He never once put
himself the question, am I acting a prudent part? So much did it seem
to him a matter of course, that loving her as he did, he should seek to
make her his own!
But though the absence of the beloved one might occasion regret,
never before had he thought life so full of sweetness and of blissful
import. The meanest and most common-place object seemed all at once
invested with an interest, which it never before possessed. They passed
an island—a narrow bar of sand with a few stray blades of grass
scattered along its centre, as if to set off the baldness of the
remaining portions, while a stunted poplar marked the spot where stood
a small hut nearlydismantled by the tempests and the droughts of
successive seasons. A more desolate looking strip of barren land could
hardly be imagined; but here a fisherman and his wife contrived to live
and thrive. Fleetwood had often wondered, in passing this sand-bar, how
any of God's intelligent creatures could exist contentedly upon it.
What monotony, what vacuity, what poverty of occupation, physical and
mental, must they experience! A prison would be preferable, for there
one might have the excitement of planning an escape; but to remain
summer and winter, year in and year out, on that bleak, blasted,
solitary specimen of a miniature desert, was more than he could suppose
humanity capable of! It seemed cruelty to compel the very household
cat, that might be seen occasionally creeping along the sands, to take
up its abode there, so dull and dismal did everything about it appear!
Such were the feelings with which Fleetwood was accustomed to regard
this spot. But now how were they changed! He gazed on it, and by some
miraculous alchemy it seemed to have been transmuted into a fairy isle,
with luxuriant bowers and ever-varying landscapes; and he thought, that
even there, with Adelaide, he would be well content. The wind that
sighed through the dismantled hut would but cause him to press her
closer to his bosom; and the waves that tossed their spray over the
whole breadth of the isle would but make him the more anxious to shield
her with his protecting love. The solitude would not be irksome, for
they would be all in all to each other; and under such circumstances
society would be intrusive. In short, our hero almost persuaded himself
that the dreary little sand-bar would be a very proper and delightful
place, whereon to pass the honey-moon. Yes; it is the soul that sees;
and makes "a heaven of hell—a hell of heaven."
Fleetwood had passed hardly a week in the city since the attainment
of his majority. After finishing his collegiate studies he had visited
the different states of the Union, stopping at every place that
attracted him by its beauty, and studying the local peculiarities of
the people. But now, on reaching New York he drove to one of the
principal hotels, and after engaging the best parlor and bed-room for
his accommodation, dressed and walked forth to call on his lawyer, Mr.
Dryman. On approaching the door of that gentleman's house, shortly
after night-fall, he found from the letting-down of carriage-steps and
the lights from the windows, that preparations for a party of some kind
were going on. He knocked, and leaving his card with the servant told
him to tell Mr. Dryman that he would call on him at his office on the
morrow; but he had not proceeded many paces on his way home to his
hotel, when the same servant, panting with the exertion of running,
arrested his steps, and begged him to return.
Fleetwood did not feel the lack of company. His thoughts of
Adelaide were society enough for him; but he felt too well disposed
towards the world and all the people in it, at that moment, to refuse
any one a reasonable request. He accordingly retraced his steps. Mr.
Dryman met him at the door.
"My dear Frederick," said Mr. Dryman, seizing his right hand in
both of his, "this is truly an unexpected pleasure. How are you, my
young friend? I have been lamenting to Mrs. Dryman all day that you
were not in the city. Come in. You will be quite an accession to her
little dancing party. Some pretty girls here! Take care, Fred. But you
are somewhat fastidious, if I remember aright."
And with these remarks, Mr. Dryman led him by the arm into the
gentlemen's withdrawing-room, and from thence into the parlor, where
the company were assembled. He had never been introducedto the lady of
the house; for, notwithstanding the familiar manner in which Dryman
chose to accost him, the truth was that the intercourse between the
lawyer and his youthful client had always been as brief as a necessary
attention to occasional business would permit.
"This is Mr. Fleetwood, my dear. I needn't say a word more in his
behalf," said Mr. Dryman, a little flushed with the importance of his
announcement, pushing his way through a circle of young gentlemen in
white kid gloves, and ladies in light satins.
Fleetwood could not but be conscious of that irrepressible flutter
which takes place in an assembly upon the announcement of a person, of
whom all have heard, and whom all are curious to see. The fact was,
that Fleetwood had very innocently furnished an unfailing topic of
conversation to Mrs. Dryman for a whole season. On the credit of her
husband's acquaintance with him she had been invited to many a house,
where there were marriageable young ladies in the family, and where her
stories of his immense wealth, his elegant personal appearance, and his
attractive manners, coupled with his remarkable indifference to the
approbation of that mysterious portion of the community known as
fashionable society, never failed to excite eager and interested
hearers. Her look of surprise and exultation may be imagined when she
found herself face to face with the hero, in whose praise she she had
gossiped so often to so much advantage. Curtseying profoundly she
looked around, as she rose from her obeisance, with a significant air
of triumph upon the surrounding group of young ladies, the shrillness
of whose commingled voices had subsided a little as Fleetwood entered.
"We have been wondering for some time, Mr. Fleetwood, why you could
not find charms enoughin the city for at least a flying visit," said
"I am not insensible to its charms, madam," was the reply. "If I
were, I should be in imminent peril of being cured of my obtuseness
Mrs. Dryman looked delighted. It was just the reply that pleased
"You must dance, Mr. Fleetwood," she continued. "Let me present you
to a partner. A cotillion is about to be formed."
"Do with me as you will, Madam. Though an accidental recruit you
shall not find me backward."
"Do you see any one to whom you would like to be introduced, Mr.
"I can reply to that question, Madam, without taking a survey of
the field. Introduce me to one of two ladies in the room—the prettiest
or the homeliest. It is a matter of indifference to me which."
"How very odd! But come, I will choose for you; and the lady shall
be Miss Emily Gordon, whom you see standing yonder by the orange-tree,
beleaguered by ten beaux at once."
"Do you mean that lady with the cloud-like drapery floating about
her figure—with the fair, clear complexion, and hair, the hue of which
may be said to be the disputed territory that lies on the borders of
red and auburn? Come now, I admit that she is more than pretty—she is
Without more words, Mrs. Dryman took her visitor's arm, and
conducting him across the intervening space, introduced him to Miss
Gordon, and then withdrew for a while to see if the preparations for
supper were all going on smoothly.
"It must be an idle ceremony for me to ask you to dance the next
cotillion with me, Miss Gordon," said Fleetwood. "As a matter of
course, you are engaged."
"Not so; for I have declined dancing again," she replied. "But do
not let me detain you from the amusement. The set is forming."
"I thank you, I am well content to remain where I am."
An animated conversation ensued. Fleetwood could not but confess to
himself that he had rarely met with so agreeable and charming a person.
She was piquante without being ill-natured in her remarks; and the
knowledge which she displayed of the world, of society, and the current
theories of the day for its reform, surprised and amused him. The
causes of the distress, the destitution and vice prevalent among the
great mass of mankind, became the theme of a mutually earnest
discussion. Emily was inclined to attribute their existence and
increase to defects in the outward organization of society; and she
believed that Fourier had hit upon the most feasible plan for a reform.
"Fourier's error, as it seems to me," replied Fleetwood, "is in
beginning at the wrong end—in attempting to reform the external before
the internal state, whereas it is the latter that must ever supersede
and mould the former. What folly to talk of making men and women herd
together in one vast caravansery, while envy, hatred and all
uncharitableness are in their hearts! But his system of association, he
tells us, will harmonise the passions, and produce that favorable
state, which in my opinion must precede and not follow that dwelling
together in unity, which he recommends. The idea is fallacious, Miss
Gordon. The world is an arena for the soul's discipline—so reason and
revelation teach us. It matters not what the external form of life may
be, so that the internal be pure, and active and good. There is no
truth more self-evident to my mind, than that sin brought into the
world all our wo—physical as well as moral—socialas well as
individual. Who can deny that the sins of the fathers are visited on
their children? When I have a twinge of the gout, it is not my own
indulgences in Madeira-tippling that I am paying for, but those of my
great grandfather. And so we see mental and moral, as well as physical
taints bequeathed through successive generations. If my ancestors were
purer and better than my neighbor's, where is the injustice if I am
born a better and purer and healthier man than he? The menial who
cleans my boots was born to drudgery and wretchedness, while I was born
to affluence and ease. But is Heaven therefore unjust? Undoubtedly it
is the duty of every good man to reduce as much as possible the amount
of distress and poverty in the world. But the inequalities in human
condition, are not to be levelled by social systems of man's invention.
The fault (not to speak it profanely) is interior and innate. You must
go back to the policy of the ancient Spartans, and put to death every
infant that is born into the world with mental or bodily defects, if
you would carry out Fourier's plan effectually."
"And are they then a necessary part of civilization—the
wretchedness, the squalor, the precarious subsistence, the absence of
regular employment of the lowest and most numerous laboring class? Must
men be driven to crime, and women to dishonor to sustain life—and is
there not something wrong in the social organization, which compels
them to such alternatives?"
"You must remember," replied Fleetwood, "that we are indebted to
the effervescence of the work-houses of Europe, for the pauperism and
crime, with which our large cities have been prematurely infected. This
fact is notorious. Who can tell what would have been the state of our
laboring population, if, after the declaration of our independence, the
country had been left to its natural growth, without any accessions
from abroad? We might not have boasted perhaps of our leagues of
railroad, our stupendous canals, and other public works, but it is not
unlikely that we could have pointed with pride to an unsullied
escutcheon—to contented labor receiving its adequate reward throughout
our borders—to a moral, intelligent, patriotic and thrifty people. Our
institutions, in their effect upon the laboring classes, have not been
fairly tested, owing to these tremendous irruptions from monarchichal
Europe. It is impossible to say what our republicanism might not have
done for the prevention of the social evils you deplore, for we have
had engrafted upon us, even in our infancy, the vices and miseries of
the old world."
"But surely the system of Fourier, in finding congenial employment
for all, is calculated to do away with much existing misery and
"I do not deny that his system is a very good one for those who can
live under it. I should esteem it a most cheering sign of the progress
of the race to see whole communities forming themselves into phalanxes
and living together like amiable children of one family; but to suppose
people capable of doing this, is to suppose that they have attained a
state of angelic goodness. The evils they have inherited and the evils
they have taken unto themselves of their own accord must be pretty
thoroughly rooted out before they can enter harmoniously upon such a
plan of life. While human nature is as it is, the scheme is chimerical.
But there comes Mrs. Dryman to interrupt us! The theme is a vast one we
have broached—too grave for an evening party—and too unwieldy for an
amateur like myself to handle."
As Fleetwood concluded his remark, Mrs. Dryman approached, having
hold of the arm of a youngman of rather distingué appearance, whom he
had not before noticed. She separated from her attendant as she drew
near, and announced that supper was ready. Fleetwood turned to give his
arm to Miss Gordon, but found that he had been anticipated by the
"You shall be my conductor, and we will lead the way," said Mrs.
Dryman, suiting the action to the world. "Do you know," continued she,
as she approached the supper-room with Fleetwood, "that you have given
mortal offence to Count La Salle by your very acceptable attentions, as
they appeared, to Miss Gordon?"
"And who is Count La Salle?"
"A young Frenchman, who comes here with letters from our minister
in Paris, and other respectable sources. He is desperately enamored of
Miss Gordon, and until this evening I supposed that his attentions were
not altogether indifferent to her. He has been watching you for the
last ten minutes with not the most amiable glances, and the poor man
must have bitten his nails to the quick during that time."
"I am sorry I should have given him cause for discomposure," said
They entered the supper-room, and after the customary havoc among
stewed oysters, ices and champagne, Fleetwood resumed the conversation
by the inquiry, "And who is Miss Gordon?"
Mrs. Dryman looked at him, as if she thought he was quizzing her by
the interrogatory, so impossible did it seem that any young man about
town should be ignorant of one so much courted and caressed.
"Indeed you must make allowances for my rustic education," said
Fleetwood, deprecatingly. "Consider that I have rarely passed more than
a week at a time in the city."
"Why, she is the reigning belle," exclaimed Mrs. Dryman. "No party
is considered complete where Emily Gordon is not present. And then she
is so accomplished, that she is as great a favorite with philosophers
as with fops."
"Oh, yes, I assure you it is true. In the principal European
capitals she was quite as much of a belle, during the last two winters,
as she is here. She speaks French and Italian as if those languages
were her mother tongue; and then she sings like a prima donna."
Mrs. Dryman's account was not exaggerated. And Emily Gordon had
preserved her youth and freshness of manner with marvellous success. No
one, unless informed, would have imagined that she was hackneyed in the
ways of society. She did not seem to have lost any of her bloom at
midnight routs, nor to have made callous any of the susceptibilities of
her heart in the school of fashion. Fleetwood found himself once more
in communication with this dangerous beauty before the breaking-up of
the party. There was something about her features—something vague and
undefined—that reminded him of Adelaide. Now he thought it was in her
eyes—the next moment in her smile— and then in the tones of her
voice. And did she cause him to forget, even for an instant, her, the
beautiful and lovely one, whom he had that day wooed and won? Not at
all. But, by a system of tactics, so subtle that he was unconscious of
them, she managed to keep him for the rest of the evening by her side.
When, as the company were departing, he threw her shawl over her
shoulders, he caught the eyes of Count La Salle fixed upon him with a
glance of defiance.
"That fellow is disposed to be impertinent,"thought Fleetwood; "it
will not do to let him imagine that I have shown the white feather."
A few minutes afterward he was retracing his steps homeward to his
hotel. It was a clear starlight. The air was soft and mild. It seemed
to him a week since his head last pressed the pillow— such a series of
emotions and thoughts had been crowded into a few hours. "Dear
Adelaide!" soliloquized Fleetwood, as he took a last look at the stars
before entering his hotel, "as I have eyes to see and ears to
comprehend, you are incomparably her superior. Light of my life, good
It was the hoot of the owl from the turret of her hopes.
— S. Lover.
The carriage, which in the noise made by its approach along the
gravel-walk, had aroused Adelaide from her day-dreams, had but a single
occupant, and she was a female. Adelaide sat in breathless
expectation—why she could not tell. The arrival of a carriage was a
daily, oftentimes an hourly, occurrence. Why, then, should an
apprehension be awakened now? She began to get the better of her
momentary agitation, when a knock at the door brought it all back.
"Come in," she said, with an involuntary sigh.
A servant entered, and saying, "your mother wants you, Miss, down
in the front parlor," immediately withdrew.
How could words of such import be uttered so carelessly! Adelaide
stood transfixed for a moment, unable to take in their full
significance. And then, half gasping for breath, she murmured to
herself: "My mother—she said my mother wanted me! Then I have a
mother! Ah! why has she not discovered herself before? For good
reasons, doubtless—reasons having regard to my own welfare. A mother!
Whom can she be like? What are her features—her tones—the color of
her hair and eyes?"
Adelaide leaned upon the scroll of the sofa, and pictured to
herself the personal appearance of her whom she so longed and yet
feared to meet. She imagined a face yet bearing the impress of youthful
beauty, where the lines had been worn by grief and penitence rather
than by time—eyes tender and earnest in their glances, beamed with
mournful but affectionate lustre—the hair was like her own, of a light
auburn—the figure, though it had lost the fullness it once possessed,
was erect and graceful, and the whole aspect was dignified and humble.
"Ah! she shall find in me a daughter, indeed!" thought Adelaide,
touched by the expression of those features, which her own fancy had
With a beating heart she entered the parlor. A female was standing
before the mirror arranging two bunches of frizzly curls, which were
puffed out on either side of her forehead. She turned as the door was
opened. "Alas!" thought Adelaide, "and that is my mother!" How
different was she from the ideal which had presented itself to
Adelaide's mind! She saw a thick-set, coarse-looking woman, upon whose
features few traces of youth and innocence could be discovered. Though
not absolutely ill-looking, there was nothing of that charm in her
countenance which refinement of character and breeding gives to the
expression. Her complexion was slightly florid; and the double chin
usually set down as a characteristic of landladies was hers in
perfection. Her dress was costly and ambitious; and she wore a
profusion of jewelry. Adelaide's first feeling was one of repugnance.
"Bless me, child! Is this Adelaide? Come and kiss me, my dear,"
exclaimed this woman, fixing the clasp of one of the rings in her ear
while she spoke. "Dear me, how you have grown!"
Adelaide tremblingly made her way towards her, and bending as much
to hide her tears and her disappointment as to comply with her mother's
invitation, took her hand and kissed it.
"And are you my mother?" she asked, looking in her face.
"Why, to be sure, child! Do you suppose I would have supported you
else ever since you were born? Who but a mother would have been at the
pains and expense of educating you as I have done?"
"Most true!" sighed Adelaide. "But why, mother, have you suffered
me to remain in ignorance of you so long?"
"I had my reasons, child—you may be sure of that," was the reply.
"But come, I have settled accounts with your school-mistress, and I
want you now to accompany me to the city."
"To the city, mother—and when?"
"Now—this very hour—it will not take you long to pack up your
things—will it, child?"
"Is it necessary that our departure should be immediate? May I not
join you in the city—next week, for instance?"
Adelaide thought of her promise to Fleetwood—of his injunctions
upon her to communicate a knowledge of their intentions to no one till
the day fixed for their marriage had arrived. And then the guilt of
deceiving her mother—of withholding information so important from one
entitled to receive it— forced itself powerfully upon her mind.
"Why, child, I thought you would he delighted at the idea of going
to the city," said Mrs. Winfield—"and now you ask leave to remain here
"Yes, till next Saturday, mother—and remain you, also."
"And why till next Saturday, child? There is some mystery in this.
It was a marked trait in Adelaide's character to be frank and
unreserved. Perhaps it arose from a natural courage, for it is the
cowardly only who fall into the habit of deception. Stratagem and guile
are the resorts of the feeble, never of the strong. And therefore it is
that the crimes of poisoning and falsehood are more prevalent among
women than among their lords. The man, who is bold and strong enough to
knock you down with his fists, will not assassinate you in the dark.
Adelaide saw no refuge from deception but in communicating to her
mother the real cause of her not wishing to depart till the coming
week. This she did with a touching candor not easy to be resisted.
Mrs. Winfield was evidently unprepared for any such disclosure. She
was interested and surprised by the recital. After a momentary pause,
she replied: "I have no knowledge whatever, my dear, of this young man,
to whom you tell me you are engaged. He may be all that he has
represented: but it is well to be cautious in these affairs. Why, it
was only the other day that a beautiful young girl in the city ran away
with a fellow, whom shesupposed to be a great catch, when it turned out
that he had a wife and six children all living."
"I will answer with my life for Fleetwood's truth, mother!"
"And what girl wouldn't do as much for her lover?" retorted Mrs.
Winfield. "No, my dear. We will not be precipitate. If the young man is
worth having—if he is truly attached—he will not let such a prize as
you are slip through his fingers, because of the marriage being put off
a week, or a month, or even a year."
"But, mother, you will suffer me to be true to my appointment—to
remain here till he comes, that I may tell him why we should defer our
union— that I may give you an opportunity to acknowledge his worth?"
"Nonsense, my dear; I have made up my mind to take you to the city
at once. If the young fellow is worth having, I tell you, he will
follow soon enough on your track. Why can't he marry you in the city as
well as here?"
"It is not that, my mother—it is, that I would see him according
to my solemn promise—that I would assure him personally of my
fidelity—and leave him to conciliate you as he may, and as he
undoubtedly will. Now do not urge me further, my mother, to disobey his
"And pray, Miss, to whom is your obedience due? To him or to me?
Come, now, be a good girl, and go and get ready to return to New York."
"Indeed, madam, I cannot go," replied Adelaide, with firmness.
"Yesterday, I might have felt bound to obey you. To-day my obedience is
"Upon my word, Miss, you are disposed to carry it with a high
hand," returned Mrs. Winfield."But remember, you are not yet eighteen,
and I can enforce my authority."
"Ah! do not attempt it, my mother," said Adelaide, much agitated,
clasping her hands imploringly. "Let not our first interview, after
long years of separation, be one that must be painful to both. Tarry
here with me till Fleetwood returns. Should I then oppose your wishes,
it will be time enough to talk of enforcing your authority. There are
so many accidents that may occur, so many occasions for misapprehension
in the event of my departure, that indeed you must suffer me to
"Indeed I shall do no such thing," exclaimed Mrs. Winfield, her
face reddening. "Have I spent so much money on you ever since you were
born, now to be thwarted in a trifling matter like this?"
At this instant the door opened, and Mr. Glenham entered the room.
He started, as if surprised, on seeing the occupants, and cast a
penetrating glance on the elder of the two, who returned a look of
intelligence, and rose as if to speak.
"Excuse me, Miss Winfield—I supposed I had left my gloves upon the
piano, but they do not seem to be there," said he, evidently at a loss
for some excuse for his intrusion.
"And do you not recognize me, Mr. Glenham?" said Mrs. Winfield,
"Augusta!" He checked himself, and altered his mode of address upon
receiving a significant glance from the person he so accosted. "Mrs.
Winfield, I would say," he added. "And is it possible—can it be that
there is any relationship between—"
"Yes; this is my daughter, Mr. Glenham—my daughter, Adelaide."
Glenham was unaffectedly surprised at this communication; and
Adelaide was hardly less so atperceiving that Mr. Glenham and her
mother were acquainted.
Mrs. Winfield seemed to be lost in thought for a moment. Then, as
if an idea had suddenly struck her, she said: "My dear Adelaide, you
may leave the room for a few minutes. I will send for you when I am
ready to receive you again."
Adelaide did not require a second intimation. She quitted the
apartment, and re-entering her own little room, bent her head upon the
pillow and fervently prayed that she might not hate her mother. The
thought of Fleetwood's disappointment and chagrin on finding that she
had left the village, crossed her mind, and she resolved to remain in
spite of all opposition. Then came the fear of compulsion, and she was
half inclined to fly and hide herself from her mother's reach till
Fleetwood should return. The impracticability of this step was,
however, but too apparent; and with her arms folded upon her breast she
paced the floor in impatient expectation of some message from the
woman, who had been so abruptly revealed to her in the light of a
parent. Could Adelaide have listened to the conversation, which took
place between the parties she had left in the parlor, she would have
had additional cause for marvel and anxiety.
"And little Adelaide is your daughter, eh? Who would have imagined
it?" exclaimed Glenham, as the maiden left the room in obedience to her
"Yes, Glenham; and I wish to ask your advice upon a matter which I
fear is going to give me some trouble. You are a lawyer, I believe?"
"To be sure I am, although I never had the honor of receiving a
fee. I am quite curious to know the sensation. Can I render you any
"Be serious, and attend. Do you know the young man to whom Adelaide
has engaged herself?"
"Whom do you mean?" exclaimed Glenham, opening his eyes with
"Ah! then it has been kept a secret!" said Mrs. Winfield. "I think
she said his name was Fleetwood."
"Fleetwood! Oh! I see it all!" muttered Glenham, rising from his
seat, and with clenched hands and pallid lips pacing the room. "I see
it all! Fool, dupe that I have been. How could I be so blind?"
"And what ails you, my dear fellow?" said the female, shrugging her
"They must have been affianced this very day— this very hour,"
exclaimed Glenham, without noticing the interrogation. "He must have
passed you on the road. I caught a glimpse of you in your carriage, and
you are indebted to that circumstance for my presence here. I wondered
what could bring you to this sequestered spot. I see it all now. But
are you positively sure that the engagement has taken place?"
"I have Adelaide's assurance to that effect. Is not that enough?"
"Yes, more than enough. I would not have believed that Fleetwood
would have taken such a step after what he knew of the girl!"
"And what was that?"
"But half of the real truth. He knew that her parentage was
questionable, but he did not know—"
"I understand—no offence—for I see you mean none. What sort of a
person is this Fleetwood?"
"Proud as Lucifer—and there lies the mystery of his conduct. How
could he have engaged himself to Adelaide?"
"His pride was mastered by a stronger passion.You say he is proud.
I do not like that. He would object, I suppose, to his wife's ever
having any intercourse with me—with her mother?"
"You may be sure of that, Augusta. He would never permit you to
meet. But then he is rich, and he would not begrudge you money if that
could make up for the loss of your child's society."
"Money! I have enough of that. I am afraid I shall not like this
man. Adelaide is resolved to marry him. What shall I do?"
"Take her to the city."
"She refuses to go. Her marriage is fixed for next Saturday."
"Indeed! Well, that is characteristic of Fleetwood. He is prompt to
act when he has once made up his mind."
"The girl is evidently fixed in her determination to remain here
till her lover comes, notwithstanding all my remonstrances against it.
What shall we do to get her to the city?"
"All that will be necessary, I think, will be to persuade her that
you have the legal power to enforce your authority over her. I see a
way of doing this. You must make it appear that I am in favor of your
yielding to her wishes. I will remonstrate earnestly against your
taking her to the city. She will be the more disposed to listen to my
advice on hearing me countenance her views. But when you drive me to a
plain answer to the question, whether you can legally enforce your
commands, my reply will be so shaped that she shall think it advisable
to yield and accompany you where you wish."
"But should she not even then yield to my command? What shall be my
"And will the law allow it?"
"After you have proved first that she is yourdaughter, and then
that she is not of an age when she is privileged to be her own
"That would cause delay."
"Undoubtedly. But I think it will be enough for me to assure her
that you have the legal power of compulsion, and for you to threaten
its employment unless she will go with you at once. Rather than submit
to an indignity, when she finds that resistance is useless, she will
consent to accompany you peaceably."
"We will see if you are right."
"But tell me, Augusta, what are your future plans in regard to this
"If she marries, she shall marry a man who is not ashamed to take
her old mother by the hand. If she remains single, I mean to make an
actress of her. She has a fine person and a good voice. I think she
would succeed on the stage."
"Admirably!" exclaimed Glenham, his features brightening with
obvious satisfaction. "The girl has talents and would unquestionably
make a hit. On the stage she might attain a more advantageous position
than any matrimonial alliance could give her. Besides, if she married
Fleetwood, after the effervescence of passion began to subside, he
would reflect with dismay and regret upon the step he had taken in
uniting himself with your family. He would begin by ill treating you,
and end by ill treating his wife."
"Then he shall not have my daughter. I am resolved on that. And now
let us see if we can induce Adelaide to return with me quietly to the
She rang the bell, and directed the servant to inform Miss
Adelaide, that her mother wished to see her in the parlor immediately.
Good night! ah! no; the hour is ill
Which severs those it should unite;
Let us remain together still,
Then it will be good night.
The second morning after the party at Mr. Dryman's, Fleetwood sat
in the parlor of his hotel, over a cup of coffee and an omelette,
scanning the newspapers, which had been brought in withhis breakfast.
As he glanced carelessly along the columns for some paragraph of
interest, his attention was slightly awakened by one promising to give
some account of recent movements in the fashionable world. After
listlessly perusing a few lines, he found that it contained a sketch of
the party of the night before. He read on, and remarked his name
conspicuous among those of others, who were present. The following was
the passage in which it occurred:— "The entrance of Mr. Fleetwood of
Fleetwood, "was the signal for a general levelling of quizzing "glasses
on the part of the ladies. This young "man, by the death of both his
parents without "other issue, was left at an early age the inheritor
"of a large and princely estate, including the noble "place on the
banks of the Hudson, well known by "the family name. He is
good-looking, but said to "be eccentric and peculiar in his habits and
notions "of life. He was no proof, however, against the "charms of Miss
Emily G—, who, in spite of "the frowns and evident anger of Count La
Salle, "received her new admirer with unequivocal marks "of favor. Was
it merely to encourage another "moth to singe its wings in the
candle-flame? One "would think that the young lady had numbered"victims
enough. Both in Europe and in this "country, she has received offers
without number "from the most eligible men in society. Fleet "wood is
certainly a formidable competitor—but "he had better look out."
"Pshaw!" muttered Fleetwood throwing aside the newspaper with
disdain, and sipping his coffee, as if to take out the taste of the
paragraph. "What license these 'pickers-up of unconsidered trifles' for
the public maw, assume with a man's name and character! Should this
impertinent tittle-tattle fall under Adelaide's eye, I am sure she will
prize it at its worth."
Re-assured by this conviction, Fleetwood attacked the omelette,
until there was little left of its fair proportions. He suddenly
paused, and set down his knife and fork.
"And next Saturday," soliloquized he, "I shall be a married man!
Have I been hasty in taking this step? Have I been inconsiderate? Ah,
no —Adelaide is purity itself—and did I need an excuse for our
immediate union, surely the circumstance of her present position would
be enough. But is it pity, that has any weight in urging me to this
consummation? Tell me, my heart—is it pity? No, no! Is not Adelaide my
equal—perhaps my superior in every respect, save those of birth and
fortune? It is love, and love only, that impels me. Yes, Adelaide, thou
art the first and shalt be the last, for whose sake that passion has
been awakened in my soul. Nor time nor accident shall dim its ever full
and radiant flame."
It is something of a bathos to descend from a rhapsody like this,
to bread and butter; but, as a candid chronicler, I must confess that
Fleetwood having uttered it, did take up a piece of toast and finish
his breakfast like a man with a good appetite.He had hardly done this,
when a servant threw open the door, and announced "Mr. Gordon."
"Show him up," said Fleetwood.
The individual who entered was a fine specimen of a well preserved
"gentleman about town." His features, though a little sunken about the
cheeks, were still handsome. His hair was slightly grizzled about the
ears; and a keen pair of gray eyes lent animation to his face. His
figure was erect and tall. He was dressed in unexceptionable taste, and
there was an air of elegance about him, which gave the assurance that
there was no circle of gentlemen, in which he would not have been
perfectly at his ease. He entered the room with a free and cordial
bearing, and bowing slightly, said:
"Hearing that a son of my old friend, Frederick Fleetwood, was in
town, and at this house, I could not miss the opportunity of calling to
take him by the hand."
"You are welcome, Sir," returned Fleetwood, advancing to receive
his greeting. "I always rejoice to meet any man who knew my father."
"I was indebted to my daughter," rejoined Mr. Gordon, "for my first
knowledge of your presence in the city. You may remember meeting her at
the party on Saturday evening."
"The event was one not likely to be soon forgotten," returned
Fleetwood. "Will you not be seated?"
"I can stop only a moment now—having a dozen engagements in Wall
street. But you will dine with us to-day—will you not? Our hour is
five. You will find the number of my house on this card."
Fleetwood could not give a good reason for declining the
invitation—and so he accepted it promptly; and Mr. Gordon, after a
parting shake of the hand with the 'son of his old friend,' took his
After a day spent over papers and parchmentsat his lawyer's,
Fleetwood knocked at the door of Mr. Gordon's sumptuous up-town abode,
with its patrician, free-stone front and lofty windows. A servant in
livery ushered him into the parlor; and, on looking round, Fleetwood
found himself alone. He stood in the room fronting upon the street, and
as he glanced in the opposite direction, he was surprised at the
apparent extent and magnificence of the communicating apartments.
Between the two spacious parlors, which occupied each end of the house,
was an oval saloon, the walls of which were covered with fluted silk of
a light crimson hue, spangled with stars of considerable size. Passing
into this apartment he was again amazed by the seeming distance of the
enclosed space before him. Through the second elegantly decorated
parlor were seen open windows reaching to the floor, and leading into
what appeared a wilderness of exotic trees, shrubs and flowers of the
rarest beauty and most exquisite fragrance, among which Canova's Hebe
stood over a fountain pouring water into a marble basin, embossed with
figures in bas-relief. Struck with admiration, Fleetwood passed on—it
seemed so like enchantment to be transported at once from the dust of a
crowded street into a bower of such extent and freshness of verdure! As
he drew near, he saw that the effect of size and distance was produced
by an ingenious arrangement of mirrors; and he could not but accord his
admiration anew to the art and skill, which had contrived so agreeable
and forcible an illusion. After lingering among the flowers, of which
he was passionately fond, for a few moments, he retraced his steps. And
now an effect which had excited his suprise on his first entrance,
again arrested his attention. The weather without was overcast; but
throughout these voluptuous apartments a soft amber glow, slightly
suffused with crimson, was shed.It was as if the fierce light of the
noonday sun had been softened and subdued by thick saffron curtains;
and it produced that genial sensation of content, which the 'blest
power of sunshine' always produces upon persons impressible to
atmospherical influences. After some examination, Fleetwood discovered
that the efflux must come through certain portions of the ornamented
ceiling, which were formed of amber-stained glass, and which probably
received the light from a sky-window in the roof of the house. He could
not but admire both the novelty and success of the contrivance. The
exquisite taste of the furniture also claimed his attention—there was
such adaptation in every article! So precisely fitted was it by its
color and size for the place it occupied! An exquisite sense of the
beautiful in art, thought Fleetwood, must surely be possessed by the
person who presided over these arrangements! He moved towards the
parlor which he had first entered. A harp and piano-stool stood in one
corner, and on the floor near them was a glove. He picked it up. It was
small, and white as a snow-drift on the top of an iceberg. A faint but
delicious fragrance seemed to exhale from the delicate kid. Fleetwood
felt as if he were wandering in the gardens of Epicurus. A noiseless
turn of the door-handle—and enter Miss Gordon!
She wore a light muslin robe, which floated over another of a faint
straw color, so cut and arranged as to show off her figure to the best
possible advantage. Her hair, plainly parted and wound in a knot on the
top of her head, offered no impediment to the display of its classic
contour. Her complexion, always delicate and transparent, seemed
luminous like a 'lily in bloom,' in the peculiar light shed through the
apartment. Consummate grace was in all her movements.
"Good evening, Mr. Fleetwood," she said, as sheentered the room.
"What a pleasant surprise it was to find that your father and mine were
"The surprise was as agreeable to me as it could be to any one
else," replied Fleetwood, bowing.
"But do you not remember ever hearing your father mention the
acquaintance?" continued Miss Gordon, as she attempted to join the
little clasp, which fastened her glove at the wrist.
"Allow me," said Fleetwood, performing the office for her, during
which he could not fail to see that the hand he held was as small and
symmetrical as a sculptor could have wished. And then summoning his
powers of recollection, Fleetwood endeavored to recall a circumstance,
which would enable him to answer her inquiry in the affirmative. After
ruminating for a moment, he replied:—
"I have an indistinct remembrance of hearing him mention the name
more than once—but it was in connection with another—what it was, I
forget —ah! Challoner."
Emily's countenance fell, but she instantly rallied, and said:
"There was good excuse for your forgetting us, since you knew us only
by report. I hope that your memory will be more tenacious now."
"I trust I may not have occasion to say, in the words of the song.
'Teach, O, teach me to forget!"' replied Fleetwood.
The entrance of Mr. Gordon with a lady on his arm, here interrupted
the conversation. The lady was introduced as Mrs. Gordon, his
sister-in-law. She was of the order termed "stylish" in appearance; but
the freshness of youth was gone from her features, and she served as an
excellent foil to Emily's radiant charms.
Mr. Gordon was a widower; and Emily was the eldest of a family of
six children. With admirable discretion, however, the remaining five
were banished to the country during the greater part of theyear, until
entitled by age to take their places in society.
After a few conversational common-places, during which Mr. Gordon
found an opportunity of informing his young guest that to Emily
belonged the sole credit of all the interior arrangements of the house,
dinner was announced. Mr. Gordon handed down his sister-in-law.
Fleetwood gave his arm to Emily and followed them into the dining-room.
They sat down to a circular table, and after soup, salmon and green
peas, followed all the choicest dishes, which French ingenuity could
prepare. Champagne and burgundy sparkled in their glasses; and the
excitement of an animated conversation sparkled in their eyes. Mr.
Gordon well knew how to keep the shuttlecocks of small talk in motion.
He had seen much of the world, and of the best society in it; and his
fund of anecdote was as rich as it was exhaustless. He threw down a
sterling piece of information, or a solid and interesting fact new to
his hearers, with the same nonchalance and air of liberality with which
he uttered a light jest or indulged in a polite repartee. Fleetwood
could not but confess to himself that he had never passed a couple of
hours more agreeably at the dinner table. As the ladies rose to take
their departure, Mr. Gordon proposed that Emily should give them a
parting song. There was a piano-forte in the room; and she readily
complied with the request.
"Farewell! but whenever you welcome the hour" was the song
selected—and she imparted to it all that warmth and earnestness of
expression, of which it is so peculiarly susceptible. Fleetwood joined
with great sincerity in the applause, which Mr. Gordon set the example
of by drumming with the handle of his knife upon the table and crying
"bravo!" The ladies made their escape to the sound.
"And now, my dear boy, let us try a fresh bottleof this Lafitte. It
is as mild and smooth as milk, and far more harmless," said Mr. Gordon,
as the servant brought in fresh glasses and a dusty bottle just
Fleetwood began to think he had drunk enough, but, before he could
reply, his glass was full. The wine was certainly delicious, and
destitute of that alcoholic pungency which he disliked. It seemed as if
one might drink it like water, and with as much impunity as to its
effects. Mr. Gordon's eyes beamed with satisfaction, as he saw the
glass of his guest empty a second and a third time.
Cigars were placed on the table. Each took one and lighted it. The
Lafitte again flowed.
"What do you mean to do with yourself for the rest of the season,
Fleetwood?" asked Mr. Gordon, carelessly brushing off, with his little
finger, the fresh ashes of the fragrant Havana.
"That will depend, in a measure, sir, upon the wishes of my wife,"
"Eh? Your wife? Is it possible? What! Do you mean to marry?"
"To be sure I do, and at once. Next Saturday finds me a married
"The devil it does!" exclaimed Mr. Gordon, bringing down his glass
so heavily that the Burgundy spilt upon the table. "And who is the
lady?" he added, drawing his breath with difficulty for a moment.
"Her name is Adelaide—Adelaide Winfield!"
Gordon involuntarily struck his clenched fist upon the table, and
with so much vehemence that his guest looked up amazed; but Gordon's
face, if it had borne any other expression, was in the twinkling of an
eye brightened with a smile, so that he met Fleetwood's gaze without
blenching. The clenched fist lay upon the table, but there was no sign
that it had been thrust down with anyother emotion than that of
sympathy and congratulation.
"I was thinking," said Gordon, and he paused a moment to take a few
puffs of his cigar—"I was thinking what a career you might run in
society during the next two years if you chose to remain unmarried.
Don't marry next week, my dear boy, nor next year. Go to Paris—to
Vienna—Munich, London, Florence, Rome—study life a little, and woman
in particular—the lady of your love can wait till you return—you will
have opportunities that few young men have enjoyed for mingling in the
best society of Europe. I can give you letters that will place you at
once on velvet in the most desirable circles. What, Fleetwood, it is
abominable, that with your wealth and advantages, and at your age, you
should dream of sinking into a humdrum husband! Wait a while, man; and
marriage will do very well by and by, when you want a new sensation, or
when you are prepared to enter on the serious business of life."
"There are circumstances, Mr. Gordon—peculiar ones, I may
add—which render my determination unalterable. I marry on Saturday;
and, notwithstanding your arguments, I shall consider myself the most
fortunate of men when Adelaide Winfield is my wife."
"Winfield—Winfield—pray to what family of Winfields does she
belong?" asked Gordon, fixing upon his guest a careless but penetrating
"Hang her family! What do I care for that? I marry her, and not her
family," replied Fleetwood.
"Probably one of the Winfields of Baltimore," said Mr. Gordon,
musingly. "An excellent family —unexceptionable in every respect!"
So habitual was Fleetwood's reverence for truth, that he could not
even bear to see a false impressionformed by another, which he had it
in his power to remove. This trait in his character was brought out in
still bolder relief by the slight effect of the wine upon his naturally
frank and communicative temper. He accordingly replied:
"To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Gordon, the girl is illegitimate.
At any rate, she has been brought up in ignorance of her parents, and
has not a single friend, except myself, of any influence or position in
"And you would marry such a girl?"
"Why, my dear sir, do you not see that under those circumstances
there is all the more reason why I should make her my wife?"
"I must confess, that never occurred to me," replied Mr. Gordon,
drily, and looking intently at his guest, as if to get more light in
regard to his true character before proceeding further.
"She is a noble creature, sir," said Fleetwood, warming in her
praise. "Rank and fortune might have given her more attractions than
ought justly to fall to the lot of one woman—but they could not have
increased her charms in my eyes."
"Is she beautiful?"
"How can you ask that question of a lover? She is beautiful as—O,
I cannot describe her—but do you know I have several times traced a
kind of resemblance—a sort of floating, fleeting, indefinable
resemblance, between her and your daughter?"
"Indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Gordon, biting his lips to prevent their
quivering from being remarked. And then rising from his seat, he
continued: "Let us join the ladies in the saloon—your unemptied glass
is a hint that you will drink no more."
"Such Burgundy would make Father Matthew himself violate his cold
water pledges," repliedFleetwood. "But I have reached my ultimatum, and
second your motion to adjourn."
They found Emily and her aunt in the conservatory. At a gesture
from her father, unseen by Fleetwood, the former left their young guest
with the elder lady for a few moments, during which Emily was carrying
on an earnest conversation, in a low tone of voice, with her father.
When she rejoined Fleetwood, she made an evident effort to entertain
him, but there was a constraint in her manner, a pensiveness in her
voice, which he had never before observed. The conservatory was lighted
up by colored lamps; and although the space it occupied was but small,
there were labyrinthine walks through it so ingeniously contrived, that
it was difficult for a person introduced for the first time to arrive
at any just conclusion as to its extent. Mrs. Gordon and her
brother-in-law had disappeared. Fleetwood remained to examine the
plants with Emily. Linked arm in arm they strolled through the marble
walks. Rich odors floated about them from the commingled flowers, some
in bloom and some just bursting from the bud. The plashing of the
fountain that imparted freshness to the air, was the sole noise that
disturbed the prevailing silence. Fleetwood tried several times in vain
to engage his fair companion in conversation. The most suggestive
topics failed to draw forth more than a monosyllabic reply. She was
evidently sad and preoccupied. At length, after full two minutes of
silence, during which they continued to pace the flowery labyrinth,
Emily stopped suddenly, and putting her handkerchief to her eyes, burst
into violent weeping.
"I fear that something disturbs you, Miss Gordon," said Fleetwood,
She put down her handkerchief, and looked himin the face. Her
cheeks were wet with tears, and her eyes shone with unwonted lustre.
"Fly at once from this house, if you would preserve your
happiness—your honor," she said, in a deep but low and earnest
whisper. "Go at once to her whom your heart has chosen—marry without
delay—believe nothing against her that you hear, nothing that you
see—fly, and secure the happiness of both before it is too late."
Fleetwood was astounded at language like this from one whom he had
hitherto regarded as a pattern of discretion and good sense. He could
put but one construction upon her conduct; and although that
construction was one favorable to himself, he was perhaps justified in
adopting it, without subjecting himself to the imputation of vanity or
self-conceit. Emily had evidently just heard of his intended marriage.
She had formed hopes herself, notwithstanding their slight
acquaintance, which were thus dashed to the ground. The disappointment
working upon a romantic temperament had produced the ebullition of
feeling she had just displayed. Such were the interpretations of her
language, which now flashed across Fleetwood's mind.
"Compose yourself, my dear Miss Gordon," he said, hardly knowing
whether to reply in a tone of badinage or seriousness. "I grant there
is danger in your society, but"—
"Ah! do not, as you value your happiness, think lightly of my
warnings," interrupted Emily; "must I be more plain? Yes, I may not
again be in the mood to tell you all—there may be inducements to
silence, which I cannot, dare not resist. You think I am in love with
you—you never were more mistaken in your life."
Fleetwood coughed slightly, blushed, and felt like a fool. He could
not deny the accusation.
Emily continued: "But do as I have bid you —fly and consummate
your marriage with her you have chosen. You still look incredulous and
amazed. Know then that—"
At this moment, the sound of Mr. Gordon's voice was heard so near
that both the interlocutors were startled.
"Emily, my dear," said he, appearing from behind a japonica tree of
magnificent proportions, "your aunt and I, are desirous of hearing you
try the new song to the accompaniment of your harp. I am sure Mr.
Fleetwood will not object."
Fleetwood drew back to make way for Mr. Gordon's approach. The
latter took his daughter's hand. At the same time a suppressed cry of
pain escaped from her lips. It was so slight, however, that Fleetwood
hardly regarded it at the moment.
Emily turned one last, beseeching glance upon him, and then, with a
constrained smile, permitted her father to lead her to the harp.
Bending over the instrument, she paused for some moments with her hands
upon the strings, while a deep silence pervaded the room. Fleetwood was
too much lost in wonder to speak, and Mr. Gordon seemed to be struck
dumb by some deep emotion, which, with all his command of his muscles,
he hardly succeeded in disguising. At length, he exclaimed: "Come, my
dear, why don't you play?"
Starting from an evident fit of abstraction, and running her hands
over the strings, Emily commenced a strain, full of such appealing
melancholy, that her father exclaimed petulantly: "We didn't ask for a
funeral hymn, my dear—give us something animated and gay."
She obeyed; and how sportively the notes seemed to leap out from
beneath her fingers! A new creation of emotions was called into
existence, as if by a spell in the mind of the listener. As sheceased,
Fleetwood rose, and approaching her side, earnestly expressed his
gratitude for what he had heard. He saw that she had been severely
tasked by the effort; and, with a repetition of thanks for the rich
strains, bade her good evening.
"Will you go so soon, Frederick?" said Mr Gordon.
"Indeed you must excuse me," replied Fleet wood. "Good night, Mr.
Gordon! Ladies, good night!"
Mr. Gordon accompanied him to the street door. The rain was falling
in torrents. "You must stay with us to-night," said Mr. Gordon. "A
servant can go to your hotel for such clothes as you may wish in the
"I will accept your invitation," replied Fleetwood. "I do not fancy
a shower-bath except when my skin is divested of broadcloth."
"It threatens to be quite a furious storm," said Mr. Gordon,
closing the door. "You are wise in remaining."
I have't;—it is engendered:—Hell and night Must bring this
monstrous birth to the world's light.
Adelaide entered the room, where Glenham and Mrs. Winfield were
awaiting her return—she entered with a firm step and a countenance, to
which the grave and fixed determination she had taken added new
"My daughter," said Mrs. Winfield, "this gentleman has been trying
to persuade me to yield to your wishes. At the same time as a lawyer he
cannot but allow, that I have the right to compel you to accompany me."
"Let me entreat you, Mrs. Winfield," interrupted Glenham, "not to
dream for a moment of such an alternative as compulsion. Your daughter
has strong and excellent motives—motives, which you cannot but
respect—for persisting in her resolution. Why not remain with her here
till the return of Mr. Fleetwood?—and then I am sure that every thing
will be amicably arranged."
"I told you, Sir," replied Mrs. Winfield, "that I wished to consult
you as a lawyer—and you already go over to the other side. Pray tell
me definitely whether I can legally enforce my claims upon this young
"We can do many things legally, which we could not do justly and
humanely," replied Glenham.
"You evade my question, Sir. Can I, if disposed to call in the aid
of the law force Adelaide toquit this place immediately for my home in
New York? I beg that you will answer me briefly, yes or no."
"It is quite unnecessary," said Adelaide, as she stood with folded
arms in the centre of the room, regarding Mrs. Winfield and
Glenham—"it is quite unnecessary for the gentleman to answer. My mind
is made up. I shall not in any event quit this place. Not even the
threat of violence can shake my resolution. But why need we embitter
the moments of our first interview, my mother, by this altercation?
Listen to reason, I pray you. I will write Fleetwood this very
afternoon, begging him to return here at once, or to consent to await
my arrival in New York. This is Saturday. He will receive my letter
to-morrow morning, and by Monday I shall have his reply. You can surely
tarry here till then."
"I shall do no such thing, you obstinate, ungrateful"—
Glenham cut short Mrs. Winfield's angry exclamations by drawing her
aside towards one of the glazed recesses of the apartment, and
accosting her in a whisper. His communication had the effect of
appeasing her indignation at once; for the choleric flush that had
overspread her face disappeared, and she said aloud: "Well, Sir, you
have prevailed—Adelaide shall do as she proposes, and I will wait here
till Monday, although much against my will."
Adelaide was touched by her tone of compliance, however tardy, and
taking her hand she pressed it to her lips, and said: "I fear you think
me head-strong, self-willed and undutiful—but O, try me on any point
but this, and see if I do not answer your expectations."
"There, there, you are a dear child," said Mrs. Winfield,
hurriedly; "now go and write your letter, and see that it is sent
"It is too late to send it by the Bridgeport route," said Glenham,
looking at his watch. "You must let me leave it at Norwalk. It will be
in the way of my afternoon's ride."
"You are very kind," replied Adelaide. "I will place the letter in
your hands in five minutes;" and she glided out of the apartment.
The infernal scheme, which had entered Glenham's brain, will
readily be conjectured; but Adelaide knew too little of this world's
wickedness to distrust for a moment the sincerity of his proposition.
Opening the little portfeuille, where for years her stock of note paper
had lain untouched, she sat down to write. She described, in a few
concise sentences, the position in which she was placed, and called
upon Fleetwood for counsel and direction, promising to abide by his
wishes at all hazards. She alluded in no unfilial terms to her mother;
but expressed a conviction that all would be well. She closed by saying
that she should expect a reply by the following Monday. The letter was
in Glenham's hands within the time she had promised.
No man, who is not accustomed from high and stable principles to
repel the first promptings of evil in his heart, can tell into what
depth of guilt he may be hurried by circumstances. Glenham was selfish
and sensual in his impulses; and the low, appealing voice of conscience
was rarely heard amid the din of passions, which he was not apt to
question and chastise. Notwithstanding he had declared that he would
not marry Adelaide, knowing as he then did her questionable position in
society, still he felt as if Fleetwood had done him a personal wrong in
engaging himself to her so suddenly and unexpectedly. He even
persuadedhimself that Adelaide had been guilty of duplicity, inasmuch
as she had hitherto studiously avoided extending any encouragement to
Fleetwood, to whom she now considered that a higher allegiance was due
than that which she owed even to a mother.
Glenham hurried home, and entering his apartment locked the door,
and drew forth the letter, which Adelaide had so guilelessly entrusted
to his care. With an eager hand he broke the seal, and perused the
"His ever affectionately and devotedly!" muttered Glenham, quoting
the last line of the note. "That shall never be if I can help it:
His—his— must everything be his? He has wealth, accomplishments,
personal attractions, perfect freedom and independence, and now he
would fill the measure of his felicity by this union! It is his money
that has won the girl's heart. I am sure she would otherwise prefer
me—has she not all along shown her preference? Fleetwood—d—n
him—with what contemptuous anger he regarded me when I spoke of
extending to the girl a protection that was not the protection of a
husband! D—n him—he thinks there shall be no more cakes and ale in
the world because he is virtuous. Hold awhile—and I may show him yet
that the girl, to whom he has condescended to offer marriage, is not
too good for an humbler and less reputable companion to me. And
she—she shall be punished for presuming to refuse my hand. True, I
regarded the offer at the time as one which might be kept or broken,
according as it might turn out, as she might be rich or poor—of a high
or low family— but she had no reason to doubt my sincerity—and the
jade refused me with all the condescension of a princess, phrasing her
sentence of rejection in the daintiest language. She refused me. But I
amwasting time in denunciation, when I should be plotting action."
The habitually placid expression of his face distorted by malignant
passions, Glenham paced the floor with his mind bent upon contriving
the means for thwarting the plans of the lovers.
"The mother is on my side," soliloquised he; "but then Adelaide is
evidently resolved to place her duty to her selected husband far above
that to her newly-found parent. Compulsion cannot be employed. It will
but destroy the little influence which her mother may have over her.
Stratagem is our proper weapon. Cunning can lead her unresistingly into
the net, to which force could never drag her. Let me see. The
mother—ah, the mother! What will Fleetwood say when he finds what a
nice family he is going to marry into? And yet such is his
independence—moral and pecuniary—that I am convinced the objection
will not weigh with him, so he is but sure that Adelaide is pure and
uncontaminated. It is that confidence which must be undermined, broken
down beyond the possibility of question. And how shall that be done?
But this is a matter for after consideration. How shall we get Adelaide
into the city? There lies our present difficulty. Once in her mother's
house, she can be easily managed. But she must go there of her own
accord, cheerfully and unsuspectingly. How can she be induced to do
that? Pshaw! Could anything be more simple?"
Glenham looked among his papers for a letter in Fleetwood's
hand-writing. He at length found one, which related to the purchase of
some fishing-tackle; he carefully examined the chirography, and then
drawing forth a blank sheet of paper, set himself to the task of
carrying out the project, which had dimly dawned upon his mind the
momentAdelaide offered to write Fleetwood, and to be guided by his
The following Monday, at the hour expected, Adelaide received from
the hands of the carrier, who usually attended the village post-office
daily for Miss Holyoke and her scholars, a letter, which she eagerly
and joyfully opened. It was as follows:
"My dear Adelaide:—
"You were decidedly right in resisting your mother's importunities
to leave Soundside until you had heard from me. I shall not forget such
a proof of your attachment and fidelity. My business here is of that
importance that I cannot possibly quit the city till Friday afternoon.
Otherwise I would most gladly fly to you at once. Under these
circumstances, and since your mother is so exceedingly anxious to have
you accompany her, I do not see but that we had better yield to her
wishes. Our marriage can as well take place here as at Soundside; and I
see no good reason why it should be deferred beyond the period we
originally fixed. Present my respects to your mother, and tell her that
for her daughter's sake she shall be dear. Should you see Glenham,
remember me to him kindly. I owe him much. Poor fellow! he has cause to
envy me your affection; but I know that he is incapable of any such
passion. Apply to him unreservedly, should you have occasion for
friendly and discreet advice. Let me know you mother's address, that I
may call as soon as you reach the city. I am compelled to write in
haste, as I only received your letter a few minutes since, and mine
will miss the mail if I delay even to tell you with how much sincerity
"I am ever yours, dear Adelaide, "Frederick Fleetwood."
This letter was ingeniously contrived to give satisfaction. No such
idea as distrust of its genuineness could possibly suggest itself to
Adelaide's mind. It was plain, affectionate, and to the point; and the
closing excuse for brevity was all-sufficient. Adelaide handed it to
her mother, and said, in a cheerful tone "There, mother, read it—I am
ready to accompany you to the city at any moment you please."
"Then hasten, and prepare for your departure at once," said Mrs.
Winfield, taking the letter, and casting upon it a far less attentive
glance than Adelaide had expected.
With a suppressed sigh, Adelaide quitted the room. Entering her own
little apartment with a servant, she speedily packed up her wardrobe
and library. The trunks were strapped, and carried into the entry.
Adelaide stood alone in the midst of the little territory, which she
had presided over for so many years, and which she was now about to
resign probably for ever. Uncertainty as to her fate, and the
solicitude of preparation, had hitherto procrastinated the thought of
leave-taking. And now the reality had come with an abruptness that was
almost heart-crushing. She looked from the window, and the old elm
before it, which had been to her so like a friend since childhood,
seemed to stretch out its arms imploringly to detain her. The rustle of
its leaves sounded like the language of entreaty. The knots and bossy
rings upon its trunk appeared to her like so many eyes, instinct with
an almost human expression of tenderness. And then the little room—the
scene of her studies, her tears, her resolves, her prayers, her
blameless joys, her premature griefs! Mournful but dear recollections!
Even the dimity curtain that flapped against the window-pane seemed to
protest petulantly against her departure. The familiar outlineof the
surrounding landscape never appeared so picturesque and lovely as at
this moment. The smooth waters of the Sound gleamed like a road of
silver in the distance, while the hills lifted their piles of verdure
high in the sunshine, as if proud of their affluent drapery.
Cossack, the venerable dog, whose life she had once saved, was
sleeping on the front door-step in happy unconsciousness of the
bereavement which awaited him. Taking one of the few remaining gold
pieces from her purse, Adelaide called an old servant of the family,
named Norah, and placed it in her hands, requesting that she would take
good care of the animal.
"That I will, for your own sweet sake, and not for the money,"
replied Norah, whimpering at the thought of losing her young mistress.
"Well, Norah, take the gold-piece then for a keepsake—may it bring
you good luck."
"Bad luck to me when I part with it, Miss," said Norah, receiving
But Adelaide had other friends to take leave of, and fearing that
her mother would grow impatient, she hastened to discharge her
obligations. Miss Holyoke was engaged in the school-room with her
pupils. Adelaide entered, and with a grace peculiarly her own took
leave of her companions. There were some who, in spite of the injurious
whispers which had been circulated in regard to her, could not but be
won by the gentleness and goodness which she had ever displayed towards
them. These followed her to the door, and shed tears at the thought of
her departure. Miss Holyoke unbent so far as to kiss the cheek of her
pupil, and shake her hand at parting. The intercourse between her and
Adelaide had generally been friendly, if not affectionate; but still
there wereconsiderations of policy, which modified the regret of the
instructress at her pupil's departure.
Adelaide found the carriage at the door, and Mrs. Winfield seated
in it awaiting her arrival. As she was about ascending the steps, old
Cossack came limping round the corner, barking as if aware that her
departure was to be a prolonged one. Adelaide stooped and patted him on
the headgwhile old Norah came forth and threw a lasso about his neck to
keep him from following the vehicle.
Entering the carriage, Adelaide took the seat opposite to her
mother, and leaning back in one corner, put her handkerchief to her
eyes to hide her tears.
The carriage rolled on in the direction of the steamboat that was
to convey the party to New York.
How shall I woo her? I will gaze
In sad and silent trance
On those blue eyes whose witching rays
Speak love in every glance:
And I will tell her, eyes more bright,
Though bright her own may beam,
Will shed their witching spell to-night
Upon me, in my dream.
When Fleetwood re-entered the parlor at Mr. Gordon's, he found that
during his brief absence the ladies had disappeared.
"Amuse yourself with a book, Frederick, while I recall the
fugitives," said Mr. Gordon, quitting the room.
But Fleetwood found that the company of his own perplexed
meditations was quite sufficient. Let us leave him to them, while we
follow Mr. Gordon in quest of his daughter.
He abruptly entered her sleeping-room, and standing with his back
leaning against the closed door, and his arms folded, he regarded Emily
for some moments in silence. She was sitting in a large, old-fashioned
easy-chair, with her clasped hands resting carelessly in her lap, and
her eyes fixed thoughtfully upon the floor. On seeing her father, she
started from her posture, and rising, turned on him a half apprehensive
and guilty glance.
"Have you not dutifully obeyed my injunctions?" he said, in a
bitter and measured voice, lingering upon every word as if to wring
from it all the severity of which it was capable. "What, girl! would
you have betrayed me—thwarted me— foiled me—your own father?"
"No, sir; indeed I intended to say nothing that should throw a
suspicion—that should raise a doubt as to your—"
"Have a care, girl! Luckily your inuendoes were misinterpreted. I
heard them all, and watched their effect—the self-satisfied youth
construed them as the wild and broken manifestations of a sentimental
fancy for himself—he supposed you were in love with him—but it was
not through any fault of yours that his eyes were not opened, and my
"O, my father," exclaimed Emily, wringing her hands imploringly,
"abandon this unholy scheme! If adversity threatens us, let it come! Do
not try to avert it by unrighteous means, by injustice, by deception.
While we have free souls, what though—"
"Have done with this tiresome canting. What is it that I demand of
you? That you so exercise the fascinations you possess that this young
Croesus, who is now below, shall make you his wife."
"Is Mr. Fleetwood then still below?" asked Emily, in a despairing
tone. "I thought he had quitted the house."
"He returned to escape the storm—he remains here
to-night—and—mark you—I expect you to go down, and make yourself
more agreeable than you have seen fit to do as yet."
"My father, did you not tell me that he was engaged—that he was
under a promise to marry this very week?"
"And what if he is? How very scrupulous you have grown all at once!
Why, girl, I have seen you so play the Syren before now as to make men
faithless to their wedded wives—as to make lovers forsake their
affianced mistresses, whom they fancied they adored till they saw you.
Have you forgotten the bloody duel—the suicide—which are among the
trophies of your heartless coquetry?"
"My father, this is cruel—it is—
"It is true—and you know it."
"Ah, then let me not add to the catalogue of my offences. Let me
not break the heart of an innocent girl by driving the lover, to whom
she has confided all her hopes, to perfidy!"
"Bah! Why will you talk so, when you know I despise cant? Girl's
hearts are not so easily broken—as you are well aware. Listen to me.
There are two all controlling reasons why this match should be
prevented. One is, that Fleetwood must marry you and no one else—and
the other is, that of all women in the world he must not marry
Adela—the girl to whom he is engaged."
"And why should she be proscribed more than others?"
"For reasons, on which your prosperity and mine and that of all my
family may depend."
"Indeed! I thought she was a nameless, obscure girl—how can we be
affected by her marriage?"
"It is no time for explanation now. Let me be obeyed, unless you
would see me ruined."
Ah! do not urge me to this step. Do not drive me to that, at which
my conscience, my heart revolts!"
"Your heart! How long is it, Miss, since you had such a toy? But I
know the cause of your refractoriness. You would wed that beggarly
Count, La Salle—you would wed him—and not for love—but for his
Emily hung her head as if a part at least of the accusation were
"Look you, daughter," continued Mr. Gordon, detecting at once the
effect of his remark; "were you a fool—a green girl—it might be cruel
in me to urge you as I do upon this point. But you area woman of the
world—from a child you have been a sort of pet in the lap of
society—you have been bred to luxury, and must ever feel the need of
it—you have loved and been loved—you are at an age when the reasoning
faculties should be predominant. Do I ask you to make a repulsive
match? On the contrary, would not nine hundred and ninety-nine women
out of a thousand, ay, and men too, say that Fleetwood was infinitely
the Count's superior in intellectual and personal advantages, as well
as in those which the world prizes so highly? You shake your head.
Damnation, girl, do you pretend to compare the two? Why, La Salle is
unworthy to lick the dust from the other's shoes. Ah! but I forgot—the
Count has in one thing the advantage—Fleetwood doesn't play on the
fiddle—the one has the manners and attainments of a gentleman—the
other those of a dancing-master."
"Why will you compel me to injure a being who has never done me
harm?" asked Emily.
"Her very existence does you harm—does all of us harm," exclaimed
Mr. Gordon, with violence. "Look you, girl, am I a man to be subjected
to the indignities, the humiliations, the crushing, heart-wearing
annoyances of want, after having been accustomed from my very birth to
affluence and the ready gratification of all my tastes? Should I, think
you, receive with patience the sneering condolence of men who have for
years looked up to me with envy? Should I listen with equanimity to
their heartless commentaries upon my ruin? Or, do you imagine, that
should the time come, as come it will if you thwart me in my plans,
when my grocer will refuse to trust me for a barrel of flour until my
last quarter's bill is paid—do you imagine, that under such a
mortification, I would consent to live?"
"Ah, my father, surely, surely there is no danger of any such
event. We can reduce our establishment many thousands a-year, and still
live comfortably, respectably."
"Reduce our establishment! Why, girl, I have lived for the last
twelve months solely on the credit of my splendid establishment. Take
it away, and absolute ruin would stare me in the face. A whole legion
of creditors would beleaguer me. Listen. The stupendous expenses which
I have been at for the last ten years, have not been indulged in
without seriously impairing my fortune. On my last return from Europe,
I found that I had been in the habit of spending more than double the
amount of my income. Instead of husbanding my resources, selling off
all my costly superfluities, and moving into the country for a while,
until I had made up my losses, I foolishly launched into speculation in
the hope of retrieving in a few days the extravagances of spendthrift
years. I have been unsuccessful in all my movements in Wall-street. A
few misdirected operations on a large scale in stocks have been
sufficient to rob me of a fortune. Everything that is supposed to be my
own is mortgaged for its full value. My means of raising money are
exhausted. The little sum in cash which is left to my credit in the
bank is ebbing daily. What am I to do when it is quite gone? Bred as a
gentleman, with no profession, no pursuit, to what can I turn my hand,
whereby to wring from the hard world a pittance for the support of
myself and family? I look around, and see but one means of escape from
degradation and ruin. It is in your marriage with Fleetwood. I made you
cultivate that odious Mrs. Dryman with the view of meeting him. You
have succeeded; and circumstances have favored us far more than we
could have hoped. I know the exact extent of Fleetwood'specuniary
resources. They are immense. He is a gentleman by birth and character,
and any girl might be proud of him as a husband. She, to whom he has
rashly engaged himself, is—a disreputable person. There are ways of
proving this to his satisfaction—and it will be done. How then can you
have any compunction, on her account, about securing Fleetwood for
"Do you mean to say," asked Emily, "that in any event, and
independently of aught that I may do, you shall break off this match of
"Unquestionably. We have but to let him see with his own eyes, and
hear with his own ears, and there is no fear but that he will repudiate
the girl, and with good and sufficient cause."
Emily was deeply concerned at the revelations her father had made.
She had no reason to doubt them, for he had never deceived her.
Accustomed to plenty, and never knowing what it was to have a demand
for money refused, she recoiled with dismay from the prospect of actual
poverty. And then there were duties which she owed to others. Her
father's family was large and expensive. The mother had died about two
years before, leaving six children, of whom Emily was the eldest. The
remaining five were considerably younger; and, from motives of economy,
Mr. Gordon had placed them all at boarding-schools. What would become
of them in the event of such ruin and disaster as threatened them,
unless she came to the rescue? Visions of orphan asylums, of milliner's
apprentices, and boys sent out to cruel task-masters to learn a trade,
flitted across her imagination, until, after pacing the floor a few
moments in an excited state of mind, she placed her hand in her
father's, and exclaimed: "I'll do it!"
"That's a brave girl—that's my own daughter," said Mr. Gordon,
rapturously. "Forgive me, Emily, if I have been harsh—and forget the
cutting things I may have said."
"You had reason in saying them, my father. Had I dreamed that your
necessities were of so serious a nature, you would not have found me so
obstinate. I had scruples, it is true, but what you say of the
impossibility of Fleetwood's marrying when he knows the truth in regard
to her to whom he is affianced, has set my mind at ease. But do you not
exaggerate the power of my charms to captivate this young man?"
"Not at all. If you do but set about it with a will, you can easily
accomplish your object. But you must forget all about the Count, my
"That I will try to do, my father—although, I must say, that I
think you were a little too hard upon him."
"Perhaps so—but you will confess that Fleetwood is certainly the
more eligible match of the two?"
"Yes," said Emily, with a sigh—"the more eligible."
Mr. Gordon was right in calling his daughter a woman of the world.
But she occasionally indulged in day-dreams of what she might be could
the better part of her nature once gain the ascendant and keep it. They
had faded now.
"But we are wasting time," said Mr. Gordon. "We must not leave
Fleetwood any longer alone."
Emily cast a hasty glance at the mirror on her
toilet-table—re-arranged a stray curl—and, with the glow of an
anticipated conquest mantling her cheeks, passed out of the room in
advance of her father. She descended the stairs slowly and
thoughtfully, as if to collect her thoughts in reference to the kind of
tactics which she ought to adopt towards Fleetwood. He was already
under a misapprehension in regard to the state of her affections.
Should she encourage it, and win his pity under the pretence of a
misplaced passion, or should she, by an apparent invincibleness and a
cold indifference to his fascinations, pique his vanity and awaken the
appetite of pursuit? She was still undetermined as to the course which
it would be most expedient for her to choose, when she entered the
Fleetwood was pacing the saloon. His thoughts were of Adelaide: he
was trying to fix before his mind's eye a perfect representation of her
features. But the expression varied like the shifting lights upon a
tree, whose leaves are blown by the wind. Emily was near enough to
touch him before he was aware of her presence.
"Your thoughts must be pleasant ones," said she, while he started
on regarding her—"I trust I have not put them to flight."
"Had they been sad ones, most assuredly you would have done so,"
"Ah, would that I might believe I had even that power over you!"
"Will you take a seat, or will you walk?"
"I will walk."
What could Fleetwood do but offer his arm?
"And is she very beautiful—she to whom— who—" and Emily turned
away her head as if to hide her agitation. Then appearing to rally her
spirits, she exclaimed: "Of course, she is beautiful —and she loves
Fleetwood felt her arm tremble in his. What reason had he to doubt
the reality of her apparent emotions—to doubt that he had suddenly
become to her an object of the tenderest attachment?
But did he waver for an instant in his loyalty towards Adelaide?
Not for an instant. And yet a dangerous pity for Emily, who under such
circumstanceshad conceived for him so utterly hopeless a passion, began
to pull at his heart-strings.
The storm, which had been increasing in severity, was now
accompanied by tremendous peals of thunder. Emily had inherited a
nervous susceptibility to the sound. It never failed to awaken a sort
of frantic alarm, under the influence of which she entirely lost her
self-control. And now, at the first peal, she clung with unaffected
terror to Fleetwood's arm. She had composure enough, however, to say:
"I am not myself when it thunders—pray, call my father
Fleetwood led her to a sofa, and went to pull the bell. A minute
elapsed, and no one came. He was moving towards the entry to call Mr.
Gordon when another thunder-crash more violent than the one which had
preceded it, seemed to shake the whole house.
"Do not leave me—do not leave me!" shrieked Emily, darting towards
him, and almost fainting in his arms.
He lifted her to bear her towards the sofa. Her breast heaved
against his own.
"There is no affectation here," thought he, as he felt the quick
and violent throbbing of her heart, and saw the color forsake her
He sat by her side—he held her hand—her head rested upon his
shoulder—and his left arm circled her waist. Her curls brushed his
The door was opened—opened noiselessly—and when, after a brief
interval of silence, Fleetwood looked up, he saw Count La Salle
standing before them.
With folded arms, his eyes flaming with jealousy, and his lips
quivering, La Salle stood and regarded them. Fleetwood did not attempt
to move Emily from her position. At length her eyes opened, andthe
first object they rested upon was La Salle. She rose instantly to her
feet, and assumed a look of proud and dignified composure.
"I see I have entered inopportunely," said the Count. "I am de
trop—I wish you joy, Mademoiselle, of your new conquest. What pretty
things hearts are to play with! Won't you have another?"
"Had I ever given you any right, sir, to use this language,"
returned Emily, "it would still be insolent; but having none, you are
"O, I did not expect to take you off your guard," said the
Count—"not at all! A woman, who has made up her mind to play the game,
of which you seem to be fond, must of course have tact and
self-possession. But why not give a hint to your footman not to admit
visitors on such occasions as the present? These contretemps must be
provoking to so consummate a diplomatist as yourself in affairs of the
heart. But I beg pardon. I am detaining you from more agreeable
Emily bowed, and replied: "I shall be pleased to see you prove that
you are truly aware of that fact."
"It is a loving and a fair reply, Mademoiselle, and one which I had
reason to expect from the character of our past intercourse."
"There has been nothing in that, sir, which you are not at liberty
to proclaim to the whole world."
"You have said it, Mademoiselle: and you are impatient at my stay.
I humbly take my leave."
"You can take nothing, with which I would more willingly part,"
retorted Emily, borrowing a line from Hamlet.
"I thank you for your amiable attempts to exasperate me,
Mademoiselle," replied the Count, his accents tremulous with rage. "But
I shall compensatemyself for this treatment by deeds—not by words. As
for you, sir," continued he, turning to Fleetwood, "you have been a
party to it—an innocent one, perhaps, and yet a responsible one."
"You may put what construction you please, sir, upon anything I
have done or may do," replied Fleetwood, coldly.
"I thank you, sir, for the privilege," returned La Salle. "As the
man says in the play, the time may come when I can cry quittance! Till
then, sir, farewell! And farewell to you, Mademoiselle."
La Salle strode out of the room without any farther exhibition of
his jealousy and spleen.
There was a cessation in the storm without.
"His conduct is inexplicable," said Emily. "I assure you I have
avoided that man and his attentions as much as possible."
"Not knowing the relations that might exist between you, I could
not venture to say much," said Fleetwood.
"There are no relations save those of ordinary acquaintanceship,"
replied Miss Gordon.
"Since we are no longer likely to be interrupted by the thunder,
perhaps you will let me hear the sound of your harp-strings again?"
said Fleetwood, taking her hand and leading her towards the instrument.
"What shall be the theme?" inquired she. "Pardon me—I
forgot—there is but one theme suitable to your frame of mind." And she
heaved a deep sigh.
"Nay, Miss Gordon, my sympathies are not so very exclusive as you
seem to suppose. Sing to suit yourself."
After a long and melancholy but exquisitely melodiously prelude,
Emily sang those lines of Viola's, "She never told her love," so
exquisitely wedded to music by one of the masters of the Englishschool.
Nothing could be more touching and earnest than the expression she gave
to the passage. It seemed the out-gushing of a breaking heart.
Fleetwood was sensitively alive to the influence of sweet sounds; and
his ears drank in the last vibrations of her voice and harp with eager
attention—with subdued feelings of commiseration —almost tenderness.
Emily, after she had finished the strain, buried her face a moment in
her hands; and then, looking up, with an apparent effort to be gay, she
said: "I will sing you something less grave—less—in earnest." The
last two words she uttered in a whisper, as if to herself, but they
were not unheard by Fleetwood. Dashing her hand over the strings, she
carolled in a clear, triumphant tone Ariel's enchanting strain, "Where
the bee sucks, there lurk I."
Fleetwood was charmed—any lover of music would have been—by her
"Good night, Mr. Fleetwood," she said, rising suddenly at the
conclusion of the melody. "It is growing late—the servant will wait
upon you to your apartment—or, if my father has not retired, I will
send him to you. Good night!"
Her utterance was slightly choked, as she hurriedly said these
"Good night, Miss Emily; and may your dreams be as pleasant as
Emily was moving towards the door. She turned as if to reply to
Fleetwood's kind wish, and then as if she dared not trust her voice,
she abruptly quitted the room. Shortly afterwards Mr. Gordon entered,
and conducted his young guest to the apartment he was to occupy for the
The style in which this sleeping-room was fitted up, accorded with
the magnificence of the rest of the house. The walls were hung with
crimson silk. The carpet was one of the softest and thickestever woven
by a Turkish loom. The bed was small, low and simply constructed, but
gilt so as to resemble massive gold. Two immense mirrors, reaching from
the ceiling to the floor, and imbedded in the wall, occupied the
principal part of the space on either side of the richly carved marble
Fleetwood held a candle in his hand, and as he advanced towards one
of these mirrors, he started and trembled at the reflection of an
image, the lineaments of which were stamped indelibly upon his memory.
Was it a false creation "proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?" For
a moment he stood spell-bound. He then turned his head slowly to see
whence the reflection came. It was from a painting on the wall—a
painting of a young and beautiful female—how like it was to Adelaide!
"Whose portrait is that?" he earnestly asked.
Mr. Gordon hesitated, and bit his lip with suppressed vexation. But
Fleetwood's eyes were fixed upon the painting, and he did not notice
his host's confusion.
"That is a fancy-piece," said Mr. Gordon, quickly recovering his
self-possession. "The artist was painting Emily, but failing in the
likeness, he converted it into what you see."
"Strange!" murmured Fleetwood—"it is so like Adelaide Winfield,
that I should suppose she had sat for it."
"Ah, a lover's eyes sometimes detects resemblances which no one
else can discover," said Mr. Gordon, assuming an indifferent tone. "May
you be haunted, Frederick, by no visions less fair! Good night!"
"Good night, sir! This room looks like the very sanctuary of
sleep—tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep! One can hardly tread
thecarpet without a sensation of drowsiness. Good night!"
Once more Fleetwood was alone. He stood for some minutes with the
candle uplifted over his head, gazing at the portrait, which had
excited his surprise and curiosity.
"A singular coincidence!" murmured he, at length placing the candle
upon the mantel; and then, sinking into a chair, which invitingly
spread its arms before him, he mused upon the occurrences of the day.
"Poor Emily! How she struggles to hide the misplaced and wholly
hopeless affection which cannot be disguised! I will avoid her
henceforth. Could I ever have loved her, had I not seen Adelaide? Let
me compare the two. The one debarred from all society, possesses yet a
native dignity and grace far more winning than any that education could
give. She only knows the world from books. With few to love and very
few to praise, she has the besoin d'aimer to a degree that is all the
more intense because it has never found objects on which to lavish its
wealth. Look on the other picture—here is Emily, who for years has
been a pet of society—has had admirers, lovers, perhaps, without
number—still she seems to preserve her freshness of feeling—although
occasionally the traits of the hackneyed woman of the world break
forth. She is an enigma—and must be studied profoundly to be known. On
the contrary, you can read Adelaide's character at the first interview.
Her ingenuousness is the most perfect that I ever witnessed in a human
being. She is the only woman I ever met, whom I could not believe to be
capable of a stratagem. Feminine in all her attributes, she has yet
acquired from intercourse with masculine minds in books a certain
intellectual vigor, which it is hard to reconcile with her uniform
gentleness. Compare the two in point ofpersonal attractions, and
Adelaide's superiority must be unquestioned. In accomplishments too she
excels. Both are musical—but Emily's voice reminds me of concert-rooms
and prima donnas, while Adelaide's suggests dreams of angelic
harmonies. Yes, Adelaide, thou art in every way the worthier of my
choice—ay, worthier, notwithstanding thou art nameless, friendless and
unclaimed— worthier even wert thou scorned by all the world, save my
own idolizing heart!"
Fleetwood took one last look at the portrait; and then, perceiving
by a glance at his watch that the hour was late, he laid himself down
to sleep— nor did he long have to woo the influence of that power
which "knits up the ravelled sleeve of care." A soft but profound
slumber soon sealed up his senses.
All at once he started from his bed with his eyes wide open, and a
vague consciousness of the presence of some one in the room. He looked
about him, exclaiming at the same moment, "Who's there?" The weather
had changed since he had been asleep. The storm had passed away, and
the moon rode brightly in the skies, pouring a flood of lustre into the
room through the openings in the saffron curtains, which fell in rich
folds before the windows.
Fleetwood started to his feet. He could have sworn he saw a shadow
move across the wall opposite to the windows. He turned in the
direction of the light. He distinctly saw the curtain move, and heard
it rustle. Repeating his exclamation of "Who's there?" he rushed to the
embrasure. The window was closed—so it was not possible that the wind
could have created the motion. There was no one behind the curtains—no
vestige, no sound of a visitor. Nor could he discover any mode of
egress. There were inside window-shutters. He unfolded them. The wall
seemed solid behind them—and there was no sign of any contrivance by
which they could be made to give way.
"Pshaw!" said Fleetwood, returning to his couch. "It must have been
a delusion—I was dreaming."
I am in, And must go on: and since I have put off From the shore of
innocence, guilt be now my pilot!
After parting with his daughter on the stairs, previous to her
entering the saloon where Fleetwood was in waiting, Mr. Gordon
anxiously revolved in his mind the circumstances which had that day
come to his knowledge.
"So!" muttered he, as he pushed his fingers through his hair, and
lifted it from his hot forehead —"my young man has chosen for a mate
that very girl, whose existence for the last ten years has given me so
many uneasy moments—and, who threatens to stand soon, like the
inexorable angel of fate, between me and renewed affluence. Hell itself
must have brought about this conjunction. How shall it be averted?
Emily's fascinations will not be enough to break his allegiance. He is
of a constant and generous temper. Nor will it be enough to persuade
him that Adelaide is doubly the child of shame. No circumstance of
birth will alter his feelings of attachment. But could he be made to
believe her individually unworthy!—for instancecould he be made to
imagine that some hereditary wantonness lingered in her blood—that
would be devilish!—no, no, no—it were a plot worthy of fiends!"
Mr. Gordon walked hastily across the entry, as if to escape the
suggestion which had presented itself to his mind. What he at first
shuddered at, he at length embraced.
"It is the most sure and effective mode," said he, resuming his
soliloquy—"indeed it is the only one, which I at present see for
detaching him from the pursuit. But how is it to be managed? Ay, that
indeed! We must first discover how the land lies. I must see Augusta at
once, and learn what I can about the girl. If the mother is bent on
this match, the obstacles in the way of its prevention will be
formidable. But perhaps she is ignorant of it as yet—for it is very
evident that Fleetwood knows nothing about her—his prospective
mother-in-law. We must move promptly if at all in this affair. I will
seek Augusta this very hour. Ha! that was a rousing peal! Poor Emily
must be in hysterics by this time. How the rain pours! No matter. The
game is an important one to me—and must be won. The luck has held good
thus far,—why should it not continue to the end?"
Throwing his Mackintosh over his shoulders, and seizing his hat and
umbrella, Gordon issued from the front door into the wet and gloomy
street. The water poured in turbid torrents along the gutters on either
side. The roar of the wind and the dashing of the rain drowned every
other sound. The gas lights shed but a dim lustre through the thick
drops that were flowing down the glass sides, that protected them from
Gordon hurried along the sidewalk of the stately street, in which
he dwelt, until, reaching the main thoroughfare of the city, he
traversed it for nearly half a mile, and then turned the corner into a
cross street, where the houses were mostly of a mean and squalid
appearance. Onwards he hurried, until he stopped before one, which
though surrounded by inferior habitations, was in itself neat and
commodious in its external appearance. Without pausing to question
himself as to the purpose of his mission, he rang the bell vehemently.
While he yet stood on the steps, a carriage was heard rattling over the
pavements; and, the moment afterwards, it drew up before the house. The
coachman descended from his seat, and opened the door of the vehicle. A
female thrust out her head, and cried: "coachman, give the bell a
Gordon recognised the figure and voice of the speaker. It was she,
whom he had come to seek. So leaving it to the coachman to summon the
servants to the door, he approached the carriage to make himself known
to the inmate and offer the protection of his umbrella.
"Why, Gordon, you don't say this is you?" said Mrs. Winfield as the
light of the coach-lamp struggling through the surrounding mist was
reflected on his features.
"Hush! I did not perceive that you had a companion," said Gordon
drawing back so as not to be observed.
"Do not be concerned," whispered Mrs. Winfield: "she does not know
you, though you may know her—it is Adelaide."
"Saints and fiends! Is it possible?" exclaimed Gordon in a low,
husky tone. "But this is strange!"
The door of the house was at length opened by a black female
servant. Gordon handed Mrs. Winfield up the steps into the entry; and,
returning to the coach, accosted Adelaide as she was descending and
offered her his arm.
"It is a fearful storm, young lady—let me assist you into the
house," said Gordon, an involuntary emotion of tenderness coming over
Adelaide accepted the proffered support—and the next moment Gordon
stood in the entry with the two females. He looked from one to the
other with undisguised interest and astonishment. The door was
closed—and the carriage was soon heard rattling away.
They followed Mrs. Winfield up stairs to a parlor neatly furnished,
and lights being brought, Adelaide gazed inquiringly around, and then
sank fatigued into a chair.
"You are weary, my dear," said Mrs. Winfield, patting her on the
forehead. "Nay, you must not feel disappointed because your lover did
not meet you at the boat to escort you. It was hardly fair to expect
him in such a storm."
"Irene," said Mrs. Winfield, addressing the black, "show Miss
Adelaide to the sleeping-room over head. My dear child, you need
repose. Do not doubt but your lover will be here to see you the first
thing in the morning. Rest content."
"Your advice is good," returned Adelaide; "I feel strangely wearied
She approached as if with the intent of kissing her mother's cheek,
but as she drew near she seemed to recoil, and then with an effort she
lifted her hand to her lips, bade her good night, made a slight
courtesy to Mr. Gordon, and, addressing Irene kindly, bade her lead on
"And now, tell me, Augusta, what does all this mean?" exclaimed
Gordon, rising hastily and taking a seat by Mrs. Winfield, as the door
closed upon Adelaide and her attendant.
"It's a long story, Gordon, and I have not made up my mind whether
or no I shall tell you. WhileI am considering the matter let me know
what has brought you here?"
"I have learned by the merest accident that Adelaide is engaged to
"Ay. You have not been misinformed."
"You know it yourself, then?"
"To be sure I do! Proceed."
"Fleetwood, the young man, to whom she has affianced herself, has
been my guest this very day —he is now at my house, and will pass the
night there—I had the intelligence of his engagement from his own
"That is strange indeed! strange, strange indeed!" exclaimed Mrs.
Winfield. "How have we managed, Gordon, without any concert, to get
both the lovers into our hands? I do not understand that."
"It was partly accident and partly design," replied Gordon. "I did
not know when I invited Fleetwood to dine with me to-day that he had
any intention of marrying, or that he knew such a being as Adelaide—I
was damnably startled, as you may suppose, when he communicated the
"Well; and now that you know it, what would you do?"
"Prevent the union for both our sakes."
"I can see how it will affect your interests, but not so readily
how it will reach mine."
"Do you wish to part at once with all control over Adelaide—to
have her wedded to a man, who will forbid your ever seeing her again,
when she is once his wife?"
"And is Fleetwood such a man?"
"Most undoubtedly. He comes of a haughty family, and, if he marries
Adelaide, he will only do so upon condition that she drops all
intercourse with her mother—with you. She will place herduty to her
husband far above that which she owes to you, whom she has known hardly
"From what I have seen of the girl I think you have judged her
rightly, Gordon. Not to keep you longer in suspense, I have already
made up my mind that she shall not marry Fleetwood were he ten times as
rich as he is."
"I rejoice to hear it. You consult your own dignity and happiness
in rejecting this alliance. Adelaide must either not marry at all, or
she must be sent abroad, and marry a foreigner."
"I have my own plans for the girl, Gordon. She would succeed
admirably on the stage, and I have told her so."
"We will not discuss that question now," said Gordon impatiently.
"What we must consider is, how shall we break off this match—for I
suppose you are aware that the marriage day is fixed."
"O, I know all about it. Will you believe me —the little hussy
refused to yield to my entreaties, my commands to accompany me to the
city. It was only by stratagem that we got her here."
"Indeed! How was that?"
"You must know that there is another party, who has taken an
interest in the affair. You remember young Glenham—the unmarried one,
"I have a bowing acquaintance with him, as a member of the same
"He is himself as anxious as we can be to prevent this
marriage—either from love for the girl or hatred of Fleetwood, I don't
know which. At any rate he suggested and carried out the contrivance,
by which we have been able to induce Adelaide to come with me peaceably
to this place."
"And what was Master Glenham's notable project?"
"He persuaded the girl to address a letter to herlover asking his
consent to accompany me. After that, it was an easy matter to frame
such a reply as suited our purposes."
"Ah! I perceive—the way it was done was by forgery."
"But has Adelaide suspected nothing?"
"I have yet seen no serious signs of distrust. The only surprise
she has evinced was on board the steamboat, when, after reading and
re-reading the letter and examining every fold, she exclaimed, 'I
wonder why he did not seal it with that little watch-key he carries,
containing a stone engraved with his initials—but perhaps he was in so
much of a hurry that he took the seal, which was most convenient—and
yet what could have been more convenient than that?' These were her
"It will be an easy matter," returned Gordon, "to procure the
watch-key should we have occasion to send her any more letters. But
where is Glenham? He may be made useful."
"He will be in the city early to-morrow."
"Send him to me the moment he arrives. You agree with me in the
determination to prevent this marriage?"
"To be sure I do! If it cannot be prevented by fair means, it must
be by foul."
"My sentiments precisely! and Master Glenham's too, if I may judge
from the trouble he has already taken."
"I readily detect your motives, Gordon, for defeating the plans of
the lovers. You are afraid that Fleetwood may be rich enough to buy a
"Hush! hush!" said Gordon, anxiously placing his hand before the
lips of the speaker—"you misapprehend—indeed you are mistaken—cannot
you make a shrewder guess?—have you forgotten thatI have a daughter
about Fleetwood's age, or perhaps a year or two older, whom I would see
married? And who more eligible than he?"
"True! that may be an additional reason why you would break up this
threatened alliance," said Mrs. Winfield. "But at the same time, I know
well enough, that you are afraid I may be bought —that I may"—
"I protest against your entertaining any such suspicion," exclaimed
Gordon, looking around, as if fearful there might be listeners. "Do not
suppose me so ungrateful—so unjust—"
"Well, well—it matters not," said Mrs. Winfield, "we are agreed
upon the point, which immediately claims our attention—Fleetwood must
be made to give up the idea of marrying Adelaide— how is that to be
"We have three days yet," returned Gordon, "in which to contrive
something—he will not probably leave the city till Friday. If Glenham
is really jealous I am willing to trust to his invention to plot the
means of effecting our object—there is nothing which so sharpens the
inventive faculties as jealousy."
"You are right. We will therefore come to no decision until we have
consulted with Glenham."
"Now then, I will take my leave," said Gordon, rising—"you need
repose after your journey—good night, Augusta!"
"Good night to you, Gordon—I shall see you again, soon, I
Gordon moved towards the door—then paused irresolutely, as if he
had something to say, to which he did not well know how to give
"I had but a moment's glance at Adelaide," said he at length—"but
I could see that she has grown up into a beautiful and well-bred
woman—she will be secure—that is, she will meet with nothing toexcite
her distrust—under your roof? She knows nothing yet, I presume, except
that you are her mother?"
"You would know if my biography is familiar to her?—do not be
alarmed—I will be discreet— she shall meet with nothing to awaken her
distrust, if I can help it."
"Everything depends on you, my dear. So, once more, good night!"
Gordon hastened homeward. The thunder shower had ceased by the time
he reached the door of his house; and the moon broke forth from a
circle of purple clouds, displacing the thick gloom which had
enshrouded the city.
"Let me consider—is there anything more for me to do to-night?"
mused he as he stood upon his door-steps. "Ay—there is the seal, which
Adelaide missed—how shall I procure it? I have it— Fleetwood shall
occupy the crimson sleeping-room —the spring door behind the
window-shutter will admit me—I can easily detach the watch-key from
the chain. Should he miss it in the morning he will naturally suppose
that he has dropped it on the carpet—ay, that will do—but is not this
business villainous?—no matter—the first step has been taken, and it
would be dastardly now to retreat."
Gordon turned to ring the bell, when the door opened, and La Salle
made his appearance.
"Good evening, Count! Are you in haste?" said Gordon.
"I am in haste," replied La Salle. "I wish you good evening, sir."
"Something has ruffled him," thought Gordon, as he entered and
closed the door—"can it be that Emily has made love before his eyes to
Fleetwood? That must be it! Ay, she has played her part well. If so, we
may yet find it for our advantage to make La Salle one of the dramatis
personœ ofthis little plot. I have a dim, floating idea that he can be
made useful—but how?"
He shook—twas but an instant—
For speedily the pride
Ran crimson to his heart,
Till all chances he defied.
It threw boldness on his forehead;
Gave firmness to his breath.
— Barry Cornwall
The Friday following the events we have just recounted, Fleetwood
having completed his business with Mr. Dryman, sat down to address
notes to the two friends, whom he had selected to accompany him with
their wives to Soundside, to witness the ceremony of his marriage the
next day. He had already spoken to them in regard to his wishes, and
they had readily accepted his invitation. His present object was to
apprise them of the hour fixed for the departure of the steamboat. The
weather was bright and warm. The fountain in the Park was leaping and
flashing in the sunlight, and the foliage of the adjacent trees waved
cheerily in the fresh, clear atmosphere.
Fleetwood had hardly set pen to paper, when he was disturbed by the
entrance of a servant, who brought in Mr. Glenham's card with the
announcement that the gentleman was waiting in the corridor.
"Show him in!" said Fleetwood eagerly; for he thought his visitor
might bring news of Adelaide.
The acquaintance between these two young men had begun at college;
and though it had never ripened to anything like intimacy, it was yet
of that character, which is apt to make associates of persons, whenever
accident or convenience brings them together, where they are almost
necessarily thrown into each other's society. Fleetwood had always
regarded Glenham as a good-natured sort of person, rather selfish,
perhaps, but harmless— one of those characters—
"Who want, while through blank life they dream along, Sense to be
right, and passion to be wrong."
He little supposed that under a sluggish exterior, were concealed
impulses of the most reckless and ungovernable nature. His first
disgust at Glenham was in his last interview with him, when the latter
spoke disparagingly of Adelaide. But Fleetwood was one who wrote the
injuries he received on sand—the benefits, on brass; and as Glenham
now entered he rose and extended his hand with an air of cordial
"You are welcome from Soundside, Glenham. What news do you bring?"
said he, drawing him into the room and placing a chair for his
The expression of Glenham's face was gloomy, and even stern; and he
returned Fleetwood's salute simply by a pressure of the hand.
"Why, what is the matter, man? You look as serious as an
undertaker. What has happened? Is Adelaide unwell?" Fleetwood spoke
earnestly; and his looks betrayed that he felt even more concern than
his words expressed.
Glenham leaned forward; and, taking Fleetwood's hand in both of
his, he pressed it, and heaved a deep sigh.
"Well—out with it, Glenham—in Heaven's namewhat has happened?"
asked Fleetwood, striving to curb his emotion.
"Ah, Fleetwood, summon all your philosophy to your aid; for you
will need it," said Glenham at length accompanying the remark with
another long-drawn sigh.
"Good heavens! I understand—I see—Adelaide is dead!" exclaimed
Fleetwood, while the color forsook his cheeks, and his knees smote each
"No, no, it is not death, Fleetwood—it is something
"In mercy's name, what do you mean? Do not keep me in this state of
suspense. You will drive me to frenzy. What have you to communicate?"
"I have learned, my dear friend, that the mother of the unfortunate
girl, in whom we have both become so much interested, is an infamous
person —that her very name is a by-word among the dissolute—and that
it is enough to disgrace either man or woman to be seen entering her
"Can it be? Alas! alas!"
Fleetwood covered his face with his hands, and groaned inwardly.
Glenham walked to the window and looked out upon the fountain, on
the principle of letting one arrow take full effect before he sent
another, which should go straight to the heart.
"Shame and infamy! Can I—can I wed this girl," thought Fleetwood,
"under these dreadful circumstances? The stain of illegitimacy was
nothing compared to this! My love—my single, ardent and still
increasing love—easily cleared that barrier. But this—gracious
powers! can I consent to become the son-in-law of a—pah! the word
sticks in my throat—I cannot breathe it even to my own soul! What
would my father, with his lofty and chivalrous notions of what a woman
should be—what would my high-born mother, whoalone of all women,
exemplified those notions in her character—what would they have said,
seeing me in this conjuncture? Stay! It is not what they might have
said, blinded by the mists of earth-born prejudice, which should guide
me—but what they would say now—illuminated spirits—receiving from
God himself an influx of wisdom and love —of light and life. Would
they say, desert this poor girl, now that you find her parentage
infamous —desert her, though she be an angel—though she be the
elected one of thy heart, for whom its first, best tribute of affection
has been poured out—desert her, not for any misdeeds of her own, but
because from her very birth she is the child of misfortune—would their
advice be of this complexion? Would they not rather say—take her, and
save her from the pernicious influence and example of an unworthy
parent—save her from the jeers of the world and the insults of brutal
men—save her while she is yet innocent and young!—if her moral nature
be tainted with hereditary evils, thy love, thy care, thy generous
devotion shall eradicate them—but good angels seem to have already
spared thee that task—for, as you have eyes to see, and a mind to
apprehend, is she not good and fair? Such would be the language of
those parents now —yes; I could almost believe that they had, by some
spiritual telegraph, hardly more wonderful and incomprehensible than
that which we call magnetic, communicated their will to my soul. I obey
—and cheerfully! Dear Adelaide, your cause has triumphed—invisible
advocates have pleaded for you—and yet not more eloquently than my own
Fleetwood rose suddenly, and paced the room with firm and regular
strides. The generous resolution, at which he had arrived, had lit up
his whole face with an expression of radiant benignityand intrepid
self-reliance. He looked every inch the hero—the hero in that moment
of greatest conquest—the conquest over the suggestions of selfishness
and fear of the world's displeasure.
Glenham could not conceal his surprise, as he turned and regarded
his companion after the interval of silence which both had observed.
"An agreeable family to marry into—is it not?" said he, supposing,
as a matter of course, that Fleetwood had arrived at a conclusion
favorable to his wishes.
"My purpose remains unaltered," said Fleetwood. "What you have told
me in regard to Adelaide's parentage is painful enough, as you may
suppose, but it does not affect my confidence in her own purity and
worth. I am fixed in my resolution to marry her to-morrow."
"But Fleetwood—ahem! Are you not a little too precipitate in this
affair? Would it not be well for you to examine a little more closely
into the history and character of this young person?"
"I am willing to stake my life—or what is more, the happiness of
my life—on her truth."
"But think of the world's sarcasms."
"It would be cowardly in me to regard them so far as to break my
plighted faith to one whom I believed worthy to be my wife."
"Well—as a married man it won't do for you to visit your
mother-in-law yourself—but you must not be surprised if some of your
bachelor friends should ask you for letters of introduction."
"You grow impertinent, sir. I can dispense with your farther
Glenham saw that he had gone too far.
"I ask your pardon, Fleetwood," said he, with apparent earnestness;
"but if I have seemed to taunt you, it was to induce you to break off
this match without communicating to you all the reasonswhich render it
impossible for you to consummate it. But I see that I must tell you
all—in doing so I cannot fail to agitate—to distress you—but you
will forgive me when you become satisfied of the truth."
"Against whom are your intimations levelled?"
"Then I refuse to hear them. Leave me! O, this is a worthy office
for a man—to attempt to blast the prospects of an unprotected and
"My friendship shall steel me against your rebukes. It is my duty
to proclaim to you the truth. The girl is unworthy of you—she has not
only inherited dishonor, but won it for herself—she is—"
"Insolent liar!" shouted Fleetwood; and with one bound he sprang
upon Glenham, and seizing him by the neck forced him upon his knees.
"Unsay," he continued, gaspingly—"unsay that dastardly slander, or, on
the spot, I will tear out your filthy tongue by the roots!" And as he
spoke he nearly choked Glenham in his ungovernable wrath.
"You will repent this—indeed you will," ejaculated the latter,
struggling in his iron grasp.
"Leave me, coward!" exclaimed Fleetwood, dashing him from him so
that he fell upon the floor.
Glenham rose and re-arranged his dress, which had been somewhat
ruffled under the severe treatment to which he had been subjected. His
face was of an ashy pallor, and his lips quivered with the fury he was
tasking all his powers to suppress. He paced the room three or four
times, and then approaching Fleetwood, who stood with folded arms
regarding his movements, he said:
"I shall expect reparation for these indignities in due time. You
deserve no farther mercy at my hands, and did I desire the most
consummate vengeance, I need do no more than urge on this disgraceful
alliance, upon which you seem bent. But even under the smart of most
unwarrantable injury I will not withhold intelligence which I should
feel bound to communicate were you my deadliest foe. Your visit to
Soundside will be wholly unnecessary. Adelaide Winfield is not there.
She is now in this city—in her mother's house—and if you wish to
convince yourself of her unworthiness, I can give you an opportunity of
doing so beyond the shadow of a doubt. By the testimony of your own
eyes, your own ears, you shall satisfy yourself that she is—"
"Beware!" shouted Fleetwood, his fingers working as if he were half
inclined to try their sinews again upon the speaker's throat—and then,
as the possibility of the truth of the revelation flashed across his
mind, he sank with relaxed limbs into a chair, and fixed a searching
gaze upon Glenham.
"You say you can give me visible proof of the truth of what you
aver," he began—"how can you do it, and when?"
"How I can do it, I will not describe. It is enough for me to
assure you that I will do it to your perfect satisfaction. As for the
when I can do it—it shall be this evening, at eight o'clock."
"Fool! I see it all—you would detain me here till it is too late
for me to leave for Soundside so as to be punctual to my appointment.
It is all a wretched conspiracy!"
"At what time are you obliged to leave in the steamboat this
"At three o'clock."
"It is now half past twelve. Meet me here at half past one, and,
before two, you shall see what shall convince you of my truth—my zeal
in your behalf—and your own ungrateful rashness."
"Could you do that, you would make me themost abject as well as the
most miserable of men, so that you would be sure of ample reparation
for the outrages you have encountered. If you are lying—as I believe
you are—the sooner you fly from my path the better for your safety. I
will be here at the hour you have named. Be prompt to a moment—to the
fraction of a second—or I shall spurn your proposition to accompany
you. Now leave me—for you have made me inconceivably wretched."
"This is but a joke to the dose that is to come," muttered Glenham.
"Oh, my dear friend, but you shall pay dearly for this day's frolic!"
And then speaking aloud, he said: "In less than an hour I will
return—you will be here—I will take such steps that you shall be
under no doubt either as to my motives or the truth of my
"Once more, sir, I say I will a wait your coming," returned
Without more words, Glenham took his departure, and Fleetwood, his
eyes fixed upon his unfinished letters, reflected upon the scene which
had just transpired, and the startling communications which had been
"Nothing but ocular proof of the most unequivocal character shall
make me doubt her," he soliloquised. "Mere circumstantial evidence
shall not be enough. It must be open as day—audible and visible! But
should she be innocent, as she undoubtedly is, with what face can I
meet her after listening for a moment to Glenham's monstrous
insinuations! But he says she is here—in the city; and he offers to
prove it to my satisfaction this very hour. Surely he would not hazard
such an assertion except upon sufficient grounds. No, no! He has met
some one in the street who resembles her —Emily Gordon, perhaps—and
his busy imagination has built up this story of shame and guilt.May
heaven in its mercy strike me lifeless should it prove true!"
Was it not a web worthy of fiends?
— Washington Allston
A bright and beautiful morning succeeded the stormy night of
Adelaide's arrival in the city. The atmosphere had been purified by the
thunder, and the streets by the profuse rain. But no sunshine, however
radiant, could render interesting the prospect upon which Adelaide
looked out, when, after a profound and protracted slumber, she threw
open the blinds which were attached to the windows of her
sleeping-room. Dilapidated sheds, dirty areas, and decayed fences were
the principal features in the picture. How different from the view
which would have greeted her in her own little room at Soundside! She
thought of the friendly elm, which with its strong arms extended as if
for protection, kept "watch and ward" beside her till she almost
persuaded herself it had a sort of affection for her presence, and
would wave its leafy boughs more joyously as she approached. She now
missed the spectacle of its glistening verdure freshened by the thunder
shower of the past night.
Anxiously throughout the day did Adelaide expect Fleetwood's
coming, or some message from him expressive of the cause of his delay.
It was not till evening that her apprehensions were quieted.A letter
was then placed in her hands, and on looking at the seal a smile of
satisfaction came over her face on seeing that the impression she had
formerly missed was there. The writer said that business of a sudden
and imperious nature had taken him out of the city. Had his own
interests merely been involved, no inducements could have made him
forego the pleasure of being the first to greet Adelaide on her
arrival; but unfortunately there were persons who looked to him for
countenance and support, and he could not disappoint their reasonable
expectations. He would return to the city probably before Saturday—at
any rate nothing should detain him beyond that day—and he saw nothing
to defer their nuptials beyond the period originally fixed.
The tone of the letter was affectionate—and Adelaide attributed to
haste the defects of style which she could not but notice. A few
passages from the diary she was in the habit of keeping will not be
Tuesday.—"At length I am in the city. We arrived here last night
in the midst of a thunder shower. I am in my mother's house. Oh! dare I
entrust to these pages, with their locked clasp, the thoughts which
that word awakens! Why should I prefer the solitude of my room to
companionship with one who is bound to me by the tenderest of ties? Why
should I recoil from her embraces? Why should I shrink from her very
touch? Is it not because I have lived so long within myself—because I
have so narrowed by disuse the circle of my sympathies? Alas, I fear
this is not the only cause. She is distasteful to me. I shun her as I
never shunned living thing before—I, who have often lifted a wounded
snake in my handsfrom the dusty road, and placed it where it might
recover and be secure from harm!
"And yet she has not shown herself ungentle. She lives all alone in
this well-furnished house, and keeps two colored servants to wait upon
her. She receives few visitors, and does not go at all into society. A
gentleman named Gordon met us here last night on our arrival. He seemed
to be an old friend of my mother's. His manners and appearance were
such that my heart warmed towards him strangely at first. And then a
sense of distrust came over me—I knew not why—it must have been from
the wavering of his glance while he regarded me.
"I was wretched enough last night at not meeting Fleetwood. Why was
he not at the landing-place to receive us? Or, why was he not at least
in waiting for our arrival here? Could the storm have prevented him?
That was hardly a sufficient excuse. He must have been unwell. Nothing
but illness could have detained him on such an occasion. And why does
he not make his appearance or send some message to me this morning? It
is strange indeed. I have been pacing my room these two hours; and my
imagination has conjured up a thousand different reasons for his
absence. This suspense is dreadful. I have taken up my pen as much to
escape from the anxious thoughts that pursue me as to add another page
to my well-filled diary.
"At the breakfast table this morning my mother, strangely and
abruptly enough, asked me how I would like to be an actress. Is it
possible that she contemplates my entering upon such a pursuit? Does
she expect to prevent my union with Fleetwood? Poor woman! She will
find that she is powerless to induce me to reject him. No
humanauthority shall avail to make me violate my plighted word. I am
prepared to grapple with the sternest obstacles—and yet, why should
there be any? How could a mother object to her daughter's marriage to
such a man as Fleetwood?
"I have no predilections in favor of the stage. I have been taught
to regard it as a school of depravity. And yet I see no reason why it
should not be made a great moral engine. How can an important moral
truth be impressed so forcibly upon the conviction as by a picture of
life itself—of the workings of the passions—and the consequences to
which they lead? But the accompaniments of the stage—the abuses to
which they tend—are, it is said, pernicious and demoralizing. Perhaps
so. I have never entered a theatre in my life. But I will not believe
that a man like Shakespeare would have upheld an institution, which he
believed essentially injurious to his fellow-men:—and who had such
opportunities and such capacities as he had of judging of its effects?
Luther recommended the acting of comedies even in schools. 'In
comedies,' he says, 'particularly in those of the Roman writers, the
duties of the various situations of life are held out to view, and as
it were reflected from a mirror. The office of parents and the conduct
of children are faithfully delineated; and what to young men may be
advantageous, the vices and characters of profligate women are
exhibited in their true colors. Excellent lessons are given to them how
they should conduct themselves towards virtuous women in courtship.
Strong exhortations to matrimony are brought forward, without which
state no government can subsist: celibacy is the plageu of any nation.'
Well said, Luther!
"It is notorious that St. Paul did not think it unbecoming to quote
a line from Menander, the Greekplay writer, in his Epistle to the
Corinthians, when writing on a subject as awful as the resurrection of
the dead. The same apostle cites more than once expressions from the
dramatic poets; and although theatres were numerous in the times of our
Saviour they seem to have provoked no censure from him and his
disciples. Archbishop Tillotson, speaking of plays, says 'they may be
so framed, and governed by such rules, as not only to be innocently
diverting, but instructing and useful, to put some follies and vices
out of countenance, which cannot be so decently reproved, nor so
effectually exposed and corrected any other way.'
"It has been a favorite custom with the members of certain sects
among us, not only to denounce the stage, but to decry dancing as an
immoral pastime. Ah! to the pure all things are pure. The mind
viciously disposed can extract poison from the purest and holiest
amenities of life. That which is a salutary and refreshing food to some
souls may be deleterious to others according to their state of
reception. So where the physical system is concerned—the ripe and
luscious fruit, which refreshes one, may injure another—but must we
therefore cut down our fruit trees? Must dancing be abolished because
to some it may not be attended with the same cheering and blameless
influences, which it brings to others? And thou—
'Thou, my sweet Shakespeare,—thou, whose touch awakes
The inmost heart of virtuous Sympathy;—
Thou, oh! divinest poet, at whose voice
Sad Pity weeps, or guilty Terror drops
The blood-stain'd dagger from his palsied hand—'
Shall we be told that thou art pander to the crimi nal?
"It is night-fall; and yet Fleetwood has not come—he has not sent
even a message—a tokenCan it be that—hark! There is a ringing at the
door bell! Can it be he? The door opens— closes—there is the sound of
a footfall on the stairs —alas! it is not his—it is the black
waiting-woman, Irene—what can she want?
"At last a letter from Fleetwood! And the little seal I missed from
his last letter is here! I have read it. Business has called him from
the city—business, in which the interests of others are involved. It
is well. I have no cause to complain.
"Shall I ever forget one of those expressions he made to me during
our walk on that eventful day, when he first surprised me by the avowal
of his affection? 'I have none but you,' he said, 'to love me and to
love!' Ah, Fleetwood, I may say the same in regard to yourself—for
although I have found a mother, I feel that I should be more desolate
than ever, but for that more precious and all-compensating tie, which
binds my fate to yours. Is it not strange that we should both have
lived up to the very period of our betrothal so separated from kindred
and from friends? I sometimes almost feel a pang of regret that I am
not still on an equality with Fleetwood in this poverty of kindred
connections—I sometimes almost wish that I were motherless still! This
is ungrateful—it is impious —I must conquer such thoughts.
"Thursday. A day has passed since I last took up my pen to record
what has transpired in my own little world of thoughts and emotions. I
have had no new message from Fleetwood. Ah! if he knew with what
veneration I cherished the slightest token from his hand he would
surely write. I have driven out with my mother several times in a close
carriage with the blinds down. Why should she be thus careful to
conceal herself from the public gaze? Or is it I she wishes to keep
hidden?There is some mystery about this. She objects even to my walking
in Broadway, although the weather is most inviting at present. But this
restraint must soon end. Fleetwood will be here by Saturday, and
then—I hear my mother's step upon the stairs."
Adelaide clasped her book, and laid down her pen, as Mrs. Winfield
"I have brought you good news, delightful news," said this woman in
a coarse, loud voice.
"Has Fleetwood returned?" exclaimed Adelaide starting up.
"Not that I know of—it has nothing to do with him," replied Mrs.
"Then it cannot be good news," sighed Adelaide, sinking back into
"Oh, but it is good news—if you have any heart, I am sure you will
think so—what will you say when I tell you that your brother has
returned— that he is at this very moment in the city!"
"Yes; but I suppose you didn't know that you had one. Oh, but he is
a fine young man, and so improved has he been by foreign travel that I
hardly knew him."
"But why did you not tell me before, that I had a brother?"
"I reserved that intelligence for a pleasant surprise, my
dear—till I could tell you that he was in the city—that he was
waiting to see you—waiting to embrace his own, flesh-and-blood sister,
whom he has not seen since—since she was a mere infant."
"Is it possible? A brother! When shall I see him? Let us meet at
once. Is he here?"
"Not yet. I chanced to encounter him as he was ascending the steps
of the Astor House, followed by a porter carrying his luggage. How
enchanted the dear fellow was to see me! And when Itold him of you—of
his sister—and how you had grown into a beautiful young woman, I
thought he would have gone out of his wits with joy. As he has business
with the Custom House, he will not be here till this evening. Then you
shall meet. Dear Ernest! How rejoiced I am that he has come back at
"Then his name is Ernest?" said Adelaide, looking up with a smile
that made her face radiant with cheerfulness and hope. "From what you
say, I think I shall love brother Ernest."
"That you will, my dear. Do you know he has been so long absent
from his native country, that he speaks English with a slight foreign
"I shall laugh at brother Ernest if I detect any thing of the kind.
I hope he is not too much wedded to European habits and modes of life."
"Ah, my dear, I can only say that he wears a moustache."
"Then I will see if my sisterly authority cannot make him shave it
off. I would have him look like an American, and be proud of the name
At this moment, Irene entered and told Mrs. Winfield that an
errand-boy was below with a note, to which he wanted an answer.
Adelaide being left alone added this passage to her diary:
"Another surprise! My mother tells me that I have a brother—an own
brother—that his name is Ernest—that he is now in the city after
passing many years in Europe, and that he will be here to-night to
see—to embrace his sister! I am sure I shall love him dearly. I find
myself continually repeating the words brother Ernest—then I wonder if
he looks like me—I imagine what the color of his hair can be—and
picture in fancy his face and figure. How I hope that he and Fleetwood
will be friends! If they love me they cannot be otherwise.Yes, they
must—they shall be friends. And Ernest has come just in time to
witness my nuptials! He will be present. He will give me away. I am
strangely happy. It is Fleetwood I may thank. I hardly dare look into
my own heart when I think how wholly I have rendered up to him its
wealth And yet is it therefore bankrupt in love? Oh, no! Bountiful
faculty, which increases the more it imparts—which like the magnet,
loses by hoarding, but enriches itself by giving!"
The clock struck two. The sound seemed to dispel the gay illusions,
in which Adelaide had been indulging. A sensation like that she
experienced when she first heard the carriage-wheels grating over the
gravelled walk at Soundside, at the period of Mrs. Winfield's arrival,
came over her heart. She paused as if in expectation of something—she
knew not what. Then smiling and shaking her head she muttered, "how
very fanciful I have grown!"
"Your brother is below, Miss, and waiting to see you," said Irene,
abruptly thrusting in her ebony head and withdrawing it as speedily.
"My brother! Joy! Joy!" exclaimed Adelaide, bounding from the
apartment, regardless of every thing but the thought of being clasped
for the first time to a brother's breast. "We did not expect him for
some hours—but he was impatient to meet me—no wonder he was
Look there! If words will not convince thee, look!
And let the assurance of unquestioned deeds
Prove she's unworthy.
In a state of gloomy and bewildered expectation, Fleetwood sat
regarding the hands of his watch, resolved, that if Glenham failed in
his appointment by the fraction of a minute, he would refuse to
accompany him. How earnestly did he hope that such might be the result!
The five minutes preceding the hour fixed, seemed to him like days of
torture. Every sound of a footstep in the corridor made his heart beat,
and his breath come thick and heavy. He felt like a culprit, who has
sold his soul to the arch fiend, and who is awaiting the moment when
the purchaser is to come to claim his own.
But two minutes remained of the allotted time.
"He will not come—the coward will not come!" exclaimed Fleetwood,
starting from his seat, and pressing his forehead with the palms of his
clasped hands. "Oh, what a fool I have been to attach the least
importance to his wretched calumny! He would have been here long before
this if he means to return at all. He has done all that he could do to
make me miserable—and he has succeeded for a time—but his act of
childish vengeance is now ended. He has done his worst. Vengeance! May
he not have been really deceived? May he not have been laboring under a
gross but sincere mistake—and may he not have been actuated by pure
and honest motives in apprising me of what he believed to be true? Poor
Glenham! I should notwonder if such turned out to be the real state of
the case. And now having become assured of his error he stays away,
fearing, after my recent violence, that we may have a more serious
quarrel in consequence of his blundering officiousness. I have done him
injustice. Poor fellow! I should not have been so rude. I will ask his
pardon. I will make ample reparation for my ruffianly conduct towards
him. It was too bad! It was"—
Fleetwood glanced again anxiously at his watch.
"But ten seconds remain," he muttered, almost gasping for breath,
such was the emotion of solicitude under which he labored. "Eight
seconds— six—he has broken his appointment, and his story must be
false as hell!"
At that instant he heard steps approaching. A solitary knock—and
then, without pausing for an invitation, Glenham threw open the door,
"I believe I am punctual to my appointment," he said, coolly
placing his hat upon the table, and throwing his gloves into it.
"Ay, you are punctual," groaned Fleetwood, standing motionless as
if petrified by the unwelcome appearance.
Glenham took a seat, and carelessly tapped his boot with his cane.
After a pause, full of anguish to one at least, Fleetwood stamped
his foot, and exclaimed: "Come, Sir, I am ready for you. Lead on. I
await your damnable proofs."
"You are in a hurry, then, to be satisfied? All in good time. I
have a carriage in waiting at the door. The drive will not be a long
They proceeded together down stairs, and out of the hotel to the
sidewalk. A coachman stood holding open the door of his carriage. He
immediately let down the steps as he caught sight of Glenham.
"Will you enter first?" said Glenham, politely touching his hat
His brain on fire, Fleetwood precipitated himself carelessly into
the vehicle. Glenham gave some minute directions to the coachman, and
followed. The steps were folded up—the door closed—and, the next
minute, they were rattling up Broadway.
"I would exact a promise from you," said Glenham, after they had
driven nearly a quarter of a mile in silence.
"Promise me, that should you see Adelaide you will keep silence,
and not attempt to discover yourself for at least five minutes."
"Why do you wish me to do that?"
"Because if you make yourself known prematurely, you will defeat
the very object we have in view. You must wait as patiently as you can
until the worst is revealed."
"There is reason in what you say. I will fairly test your charges.
O, wo to you, if I find this is a plot of yours to wrong her!"
"A plot! Well: perhaps it was foolish in me to enlighten your
blissful ignorance. I begin to wish that I had not interfered. What do
I propose? Simply that you shall see and judge for yourself. I do not
deal in vague suspicions, or circumstantial trifles. I say, come and
satisfy yourself with your own eyes and your own ears whether or no I
have spoken truly."
Fleetwood shuddered at the air and tone of conviction, with which
these words were uttered. "O, strike me to the earth if there is any
truth in what you have asserted!" he exclaimed. "Buffet me— trample on
me—crush me—you will find I shall not resist. Heap indignity on
indignity—it could not rouse me from the horrid stupor into which I
should be thrown."
"My objects are friendly," returned Glenham. "I would save you from
a rash, disgraceful marriage. The discovery will be painful to you, I
am aware. But surely, it had better come before marriage than after."
"I will not credit the testimony of my own senses!" exclaimed
"In that case we had better turn back," said Glenham coolly—"for I
acknowledge I have no better witnesses than your own eyes and ears."
"Oh, go on—go on!" groaned Fleetwood, "and bring this infernal
errand to a conclusion as soon as possible."
"We are at the house," said Glenham, as the driver suddenly drew up
"We are not there yet! I hope we are not there yet!" ejaculated
Fleetwood, who felt sick at heart as he witnessed his companion's
The young men entered the house. Fleetwood, pale and trembling,
could hardly drag himself along. He felt for the first time in his life
like a coward. Was it strange that he should have entertained a certain
mistrust—a dread of what might be—under the circumstances? He had
undoubtedly been impulsive and precipitate in thus surrendering into
Adelaide's keeping his heart's best hopes, before he had weighed all
the circumstances of her position —before he had satisfied himself
fully of the truth of her story. A consciousness of his error could not
but come to him now, although he tried to evade it. He was appalled
when he found how suddenly the passion, which had been fed by hope, had
sprung up "consummate at its birth"—when he saw the abyss of
disappointment and wretchedness into which he would be plunged, should
the horrible charges against Adelaide be confirmed. He did not know
that his nature was capable of emotions so intense as those he now
experienced. Hedid not dream that he had so staked his happiness on a
Glenham led his companion into a room, from which the light was
almost wholly excluded.
"What is the meaning of all this?" asked Fleetwood, choking with
"Be patient, and you will see," was the reply; "and remember your
promise not to utter a word until the test is ended."
"Proceed!" said Fleetwood, who felt as if the hazard of a die was
about to decide whether the gates of Paradise were to be closed upon
Glenham stepped softly towards the leaves of a sliding door, which
opened upon a room where the light came unobstructed through windows
that looked out upon the street. The aperture though slight was
sufficiently large for a person to stand unobserved in the darkened
apartment and distinguish objects clearly and easily in the other.
Drawing his companion towards this aperture, Glenham asked in a
whisper, "Do you recognize that man?"
"I do—he is Count La Salle—but he is alone," replied Fleetwood.
"He will not be alone long—wait awhile," said Glenham.
There was a pause—unbroken save by the sound of footsteps, which
came from the room, where La Salle was pacing the floor. Glenham had
always regarded this man as one of the handsomest he had over seen. His
figure was perfect in all its proportions. His head and shoulders might
have served a sculptor as a model for an Antinous; and his countenance
when in repose was full of all masculine grace. But now Glenham thought
it hideous. An expression of fiendish exultation seemed to distort its
lines and curves, and to convert what was beauty into downright
"This is hell," muttered Fleetwood, seizing Glenham by the
arm—"Torturer! how long—"
"Hush! La Salle seems disposed to soliloquise," said Glenham—"What
he has to say concerns you, I will swear."
"I did not come here to be an eaves-dropper," returned Fleetwood,
flinging from him the arm he had grasped.
"You promised to be silent," said Glenham reproachfully. "Listen,
and observe. If I told you a man was plotting against your life would
you refuse to satisfy your doubts by watching and over-hearing him? Is
not your honor dearer than your life?"
Glenham had closed the sliding doors while he uttered these
remarks. He now re-opened them. At the same moment, La Salle was heard
speaking as if to himself. Looking at his watch, he exclaimed: "Two
o'clock! How long does the little witch mean to keep me waiting?
Beautifying herself, I suppose! That is needless. Poor Fleetwood! He
little dreams of the compensation I am taking for the caresses he
lavished on Emily Gordon. Tit for tat is fair play. Ha, ha! Who was it
said, revenge is sweet? He had reason. But I fancy I am the gainer by
this exchange. Emily will do; but Adelaide—Adelaide—"
At this moment the door-handle was turned. Fleetwood drew in his
breath, and the moment of suspense seemed an eternity of torture.
Yes; it was Adelaide, who entered! Never had she looked so
beautiful. A smile almost as joyous as that which made her face radiant
when she first placed her hand in Fleetwood's as the pledge of her
fidelity, was on her lips. With a step of triumph and delight, she
entered the room with both arms extended, as if inviting an embrace. La
Sallecaught her to his bosom, and stopped her mouth with kisses.
"Hush!" whispered Glenham, as he saw Fleetwood gasp under the
pressure of the acutest agony that can wring the human soul. "Remember
your promise to be silent."
But a mist came over Fleetwood's eyes—his heart seemed as if
thrown from its centre by a convulsion—he threw out his hands for
support, but they touched nothing but the smooth surface of the
wall—and then, with a suppressed groan, he fell to the floor.
"I thought so," said Glenham, quietly closing the leaves of the
sliding door. He threw open the shutters. A flood of light poured into
the room. He approached Fleetwood, and lifted him to a sitting posture.
As he did so the blood poured from his victim's mouth, and stained the
delicate linen of his shirt.
"He has burst a blood-vessel!" said Glenham, alarmed at the serious
effects of that internal struggle, which he had imposed on Fleetwood.
Placing him on a sofa, he rang the bell.
"Tell your mistress to come here at once," he said, addressing the
black waiting-woman of the house.
Mrs. Winfield was soon on the spot. At first she imagined that
Fleetwood had been stabbed. On learning the truth, a momentary pang of
compunction seemed to visit her seared and indurated heart.
"Poor fellow! poor fellow!" she exclaimed. "And so good looking as
he is! Had I imagined it would have hit him so hard I never would have
engaged in this ugly business. Irene, run this instant for Doctor Mott.
There! Raise him gently. We must carry him up stairs, and lay him on a
bed. Poor, dear young man! And this beautiful whitevest—how stained it
is with blood! Come! he shall have good care taken of him any how. I
didn't look for anything as serious as this. If I had, I would sooner
have been burnt at the stake than suffered such goings-on in my house.
This way, Mr. Glenham!"
Still insensible, Fleetwood was carried to an adjacent room, and
placed upon a bed. The best surgical attendance was speedily procured,
and before the lapse of half-an-hour, animation was restored. Two days
afterwards he was pronounced sufficiently out of danger to be removed
to the house of Mr. Gordon, where the apartment he had occupied a few
days before was assigned to him. Passively and tacitly he assented to
all the propositions for his own personal accommodation made by those
by whom he found himself surrounded. He put no inquiries and uttered no
complaints, but seemed like a person, whose mind is brooding in silent
apathy over one haunting thought. The only emotion he manifested, was
when on entering his room at Mr. Gordon's, he glanced anxiously at the
wall. But the painting which had formerly excited his attention, had
been judiciously removed; and, with a sigh, he turned away.
When he was sufficiently recovered to reflect with comparative
calmness on the occurrence to which he owed his present state of
prostration, he discovered nothing in the cause and its effect to
suggest a doubt as to the truth of all Glenham's representations. Had
he seen Adelaide fly to the embrace of any man but Count La Salle,
perhaps a misgiving as to the deceitfulness of appearances might have
arisen—perhaps the thought might have occurred, "may not this be the
result of management, and may not Adelaide be under a delusion?"
But the plot was contrived with diabolical ingenuity to crush the
suspicions which might have suggested themselves under different
circumstances. The very man was selected, who alone of all others
could, by his apt introduction, confound reflection at a blow, and
carry conviction home with terrible power. La Salle was a foreigner;
and therefore it was unlikely that he could in any way be related to
Adelaide by the ties of consanguinity. He had threatened Fleetwood with
vengeance, to which he was impelled by one of the most active and
malignant of the heart's passions, jealousy. Unfounded as that jealousy
might be, he still believed that he had cause for it. And then the
soliloquy he uttered while pacing the room, was but too effectual in
preparing Fleetwood for the meeting, which followed. Were not the
proofs all-powerful under the circumstances? Eagerly would Fleetwood
have grasped at the slightest apology for a doubt, but he could find
none. The last ray of hope had been shut out from his heart. It was not
because he had been robbed of a beautiful prize—because he had lost
her, to whom he had surrendered all the hoarded affections of his
soul—that he felt so keenly his betrayal.
Had she died—died young and innocent—he knew that, after the
first burst of grief was over, he might have recovered his happiness
and even his cheerfulness, in the anticipation that their parting was
but for a season. But what he lamented in bitterness of spirit, was the
loss of those dreams of feminine goodness and honor, which he had
cherished, and which—dreams though they might have been—were still
the sunshine of his waking hours—that chivalric sentiment of respect
for the sex—that faith in human dignity and worth—those convictions
of the existence of a love surmounting time and death—the loss of
these was one, which the world could never more supply.
Oh! she was innocent;—
And to be innocent is nature's wisdom!
O surer than suspicion's hundred eyes
Is that fine sense, which to the pure in heart
By mere oppugnancy of their own goodness
Reveals the approach of evil.
The closing of the folding-doors was the signal to La Salle, that
the object of the plot had been accomplished. His manner towards
Adelaide instantly changed.
"Why, brother, you have almost taken away my breath," said she. "Is
it the fashion abroad to salute one's sister so rudely?"
"But then consider," said he, "how long it is since I saw you. You
must recollect—twelve years ago—when we parted—no—I forgot—you
were at school. School changes a girl sadly—you don't remember me,
La Salle spoke like a man who is thinking of something else than
the topic on which he is trying to talk. He looked in Adelaide's face,
but she could see that his attention was not fixed on her, however his
glance might be. He was listening to what was going on in the adjoining
room, and pondering on the circumstances of the little drama, in which
he had become an actor.
"Why, what are you thinking of, brother Ernest? Does any thing
disturb you?" asked Adelaide.
"Disturb me? Oh, yes—I—I was thinking of an oversight of mine, by
which I shall lose a considerable amount of money. But what of that, so
long as I have found a sister?"
"Oh, leave me instantly if your interests requireit," said
Adelaide—"do not stay a moment on my account—though I shall be sorry
enough to lose you so soon."
"But I will return speedily, Adelia, and then—"
"Adelia! That is a pretty joke! You have forgotten your own
sister's name. Call me Adelaide, if you please, Sir;" and playfully
putting her arm through his, she clasped her hands, and looked up in
his face. "By the way, brother Ernest," she continued, "how lucky it is
that you have arrived just in time to he present at my wedding. Perhaps
you do not know that I am—to be married to-morrow."
La Salle started, and regarded her with a glance full of
compassion. He was sufficiently well versed in human nature to
recognize the perfect purity and innocence of her character. This young
man was not a libertine. Jealousy had taken full possession of his
soul, but it had some noble traits still, which even the clouds of
passion could not wholly obscure.
"And are you well assured," he asked, "of the loyalty of him, who
has promised to marry you?"
"Ah, if you had only known him you would not ask that question,"
"And are you quite sure he will be here to-morrow to fulfill his
"Not altogether—a steamboat may blow up, or get detained—a
carriage may break down—there are hundreds of contingencies that may
prevent the punctual and literal fulfilment of his promise. He will be
here if he can be, without detriment to the interests of others. Of
that I am quite certain."
"Poor thing! Poor thing!" thought La Salle; "what a blast must soon
fall on her young hopes!"
There were two or three trifling incidents which puzzled him
exceedingly, although he had been fully prepared for much that had
happened, by those whohad enlisted him in the conspiracy. The faint
exclamation which had proceeded from Fleetwood's lips on his witnessing
from his place of supposed concealment, the meeting between Adelaide
and La Salle, had not passed unnoticed by the latter. Although hardly
audible, yet so expressive was it of intense, heart-felt anguish, that
La Salle, who had set down Fleetwood as a mere flutterer, was amazed at
seeing him evince some token of feeling. He had inferred, moreover,
from the language of those who had led him to be an actor in the scene
which had just passed, that Adelaide occupied a relation towards her
lover different from that which he was now convinced she filled. The
suspicion flashed across his mind that he might have been deceived
—that her own story was the true one—that Fleetwood—
"Can he be such a double traitor," thought La Salle, "as to
seriously make love to another after he has solemnly pledged his faith
to this poor girl? But did I not see his arm about Emily's waist—her
head resting upon his bosom? Either she must be very liberal of her
blandishments, or he must be false to Adelaide. Time alone can unravel
these perplexities. I will wait patiently its developments."
La Salle's attachment towards Miss Gordon was sincere and
disinterested; and the moment when he saw her in Fleetwood's arms, had
been the bitterest of his whole life. In his jealousy there was hardly
any act so base that he would not have stooped to it to be revenged on
the man, who he believed had supplanted him in the affections of the
woman of his choice. Glenham, who was but a tool in the hands of Mr.
Gordon, had found La Salle an equally pliable instrument in his own
hands; and, for the paltry triumph of robbing his enemy under his very
eyes of an imagined mistress, theCount lent himself to the petty
scheme, by which Glenham hoped to bring about a lasting separation
between Fleetwood and Adelaide. But no sooner had the plot been carried
out under the circumstances which we have related, than La Salle felt
truly ashamed of himself for what he had done. He began to conjecture
whether he had not been too precipitate, and to raise questions in his
own mind as to Glenham's motives in urging on the affair. Blinded by
jealousy, he had hitherto abstained from inquiring into the object of
the plot in which he was involved; but now he determined to be
satisfied. The mischief that had been done might be undone. Should it
be really true that Fleetwood had intended making Adelaide his wife,
such an explanation should be given as would satisfy him that they had
all been the victims of Glenham's duplicity.
"I must leave you now," said La Salle in a tone of kindness, taking
"I will not detain you, brother Ernest," said she; "for you seem
pre-occupied, and I am sure you have left undone something, which you
ought to do."
"Or done something, which I ought to have left undone," said he
with a melancholy smile.
"Ah! if you think so, you must be over-scrupulous," said Adelaide
with charming eagerness in defence. "For I am sure you would do nothing
seriously wrong, brother Ernest. One has merely to look in your face to
be sure of that."
"Good bye, Adelaide! I shall return soon. There is one thing, of
which I am resolved my conscience shall not accuse me; and that is,
neglect of your interests. You shall not lack a brother's protection.
He hurried from the room. In the street he encounteredGlenham, who
had just quitted his victim's bed-side.
"Well, Sir, what was the result of your chivalric plot?" asked the
Count. "I thought I heard Fleetwood utter a cry of pain, and then fall
to the floor. What has become of him? Where is he now?"
"Oh, you are quite mistaken," replied Glenham, with ready
volubility. "It was I, who uttered the cry of pain. Fleetwood—confound
him!—trod upon my little toe, the one with the corn—and I pushed him
so that he fell. We had to close the doors to prevent our laughing
"But was he not startled at seeing the girl rush to my embrace?"
"If he was, he took devilish good care to conceal his emotion.
'Umph!' said he—so the girl fancies him—I am glad of it—there is one
expensive incumbrance taken off my hands—just in time, too; for Emily
would make a row about it, should she find it out.' Such was the
purport of what he said."
"The heartless villain!" exclaimed La Salle. "He has persuaded that
innocent girl that he intends marrying her to-morrow."
"I suspect he has persuaded a good many innocent girls of the same
thing," replied Glenham. "But of course he will not dare to break his
word with Emily Gordon."
"Is he then really engaged to her?"
"Oh, undoubtedly. The marriage day is fixed."
"Then I will call and congratulate the lady," said La Salle, with
compressed lips. "As for the gentleman, I will seize the first
opportunity of letting him know that I consider him a villain of the
"And why so?"
"The treachery he has practised towards Adelaideis enough to prove
it. I will lay my life on it, that she is pure and unsullied. He is an
insolent boaster if he says otherwise. I have not studied women all my
life to be deceived now. You may look as incredulous as you please; but
I am right in my convictions. That he has won her affections, I do not
deny. In the full expectation of being honorably united to him, she has
yielded up the first, passionate devotion of her young heart. He will
be her murderer if he plays her false. You may laugh; but I have seen
such instances before now, and I am a judge of temperaments. I will
confront this man, and tell him what I think of his conduct. His death
would be a far less serious blow to the woman he has deceived than his
infidelity. I will fight him. To save her feelings, I will shoot him.
Where is he to be found?"
Glenham was perplexed and taken aback by the earnestness with which
the Count spoke, as well as by the extraordinary determination
expressed in his concluding words.
"Ahem! Fleetwood has gone—that is, he was to leave the city
immediately for his country-seat," said Glenham hesitatingly. "You will
not be able to see him to-day."
"Then it shall be to-morrow, or the next day, or as soon as he
returns," said the Count. "He shall find that the poor girl, towards
whom he has acted so unfeelingly, is not without an avenger."
"Do you mean to take her under your protection? That is just what
Fleetwood would like," said Glenham, who began to tremble for the
success of some of his own ulterior plans.
"She shall be spared the sort of protection you allude to," replied
La Salle. "But here we are in Broadway. My rooms are at the Globe. Do
you walk up or down?"
"I will take leave of you here," said Glenham. They parted. Glenham
watched the Count till his figure was lost in the crowd, and then
retracing his steps, he re-entered the house, from which he had issued
but a few minutes before, and found his way to a room, where Mr. Gordon
sat in solitary meditation.
"How is the patient?" asked Glenham.
"Out of all danger," was the reply. "He will be well enough to be
removed to-morrow or the next day."
"Do you think so? Well; what I have come back to tell you is, that
there are new and unexpected dangers ahead. La Salle, whom we have
believed we could manage so easily, is disposed to give us trouble. He
begins to suspect that there has been foul play, and is resolved to
satisfy his misgivings before lending himself further to our plot. It
will be hazardous to suffer him to have another interview with
"To be sure it will. That must be guarded against. How shall it be
"It will be equally dangerous to suffer him to communicate with
"I can easily provide against that contingency. Fleetwood will be
obliged to keep his room for some weeks yet, and as I intend having him
transferred to my house, it will be an easy matter to keep the Count
out of the way, and at the same time, exercise a wholesome surveillance
over my patient's correspondence. And now the question is, how to
dispose of Adelaide?"
Say, in the visions of romantic youth,
What years of endless bliss are yet to flow!
But mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth?
The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below.
The third morning after his removal to the house of Mr. Gordon,
Fleetwood had so far recovered his strength, that permission was given
him by his physician to quit the chamber, where he had been confined,
and walk in the rooms below. Leaning on the arm of his host he
proceeded down stairs, and entered the parlor, where he had first
"Where are you, Emily? Not here to welcome our invalid guest!"
exclaimed Mr. Gordon.
Emily was sauntering in the conservatory, sewing upon some light
muslin work. She threw it down on hearing her father's voice; and as
she issued through the open window with its background of leaves and
flowers, she looked the embodiment of grace and beauty. Hastening
through the intermediate parlor and saloon, she approached Fleetwood,
holding out both her hands, while an expression of animation and
delight gave a new charm to her features.
"I am glad to see you after your accident, Mr. Fleetwood," she said
in a grateful and musical, because a sincere tone of voice.
"You are very kind," replied Fleetwood, smiling faintly, while he
gave her his disengaged hand.
"Pray, my dear," said Mr. Gordon, looking at his watch, and
addressing his daughter, "pray take my place as a walking stick for our
friend. I have an engagement at this hour. I rely upon you,Emily, to
take care of him. She is a capital nurse, I assure you, Fleetwood. Good
And without giving his guest time to reply, Mr. Gordon substituted
his daughter's arm for his own as a support, and withdrew from the
apartment. Fleetwood unconsciously frowned. Although physically
convalescent he still felt sick at heart, and in no mood for female
society, especially Emily's. He had been stunned by the terrible blow
which had fallen upon him, and had but partially recovered from its
depressing effects. He craved repose—he implored peace. His solitude
had been almost uninterrupted from the moment of his accident up to the
present time. He had not seen Emily at all, and her father but once or
twice. He appreciated the disposition thus shown to humor him; and in
gratitude for what had been done he resolved not to exhibit if possible
In justification of Emily it should be made known, that she was as
yet wholly unacquainted with the circumstances of Fleetwood's illness;
although of this fact he was unaware. All that she had been told was,
that he had slipped down and burst a blood vessel; and her natural
inference was, that the accident was occasioned by too violent an
effort on his part to save himself, while in the act of falling.
"I rejoice at our good fortune in having you again for our guest,"
said Emily; "at the same time I cannot but regret the cause."
"The cause? Ay, Miss Emily, the cause was not an agreeable one,"
replied Fleetwood, coldly, wounded at her incautious allusion to so
delicate a subject.
"But you are quite over it, I trust? The effects are not serious,
apart from a temporary weakness?"
"Oh, of course not!" said Fleetwood, bitterly. "It is foolish to
feel any emotion of regret at suchoccurrences—to show such a thing as
a heart capable of being wounded by treachery and falsehood where it
looked for fidelity and love. Bah! Do not laugh at me for my
"Laugh at you!"
And Emily looked wonderingly in the face of her guest, half afraid
that his wits were in an unsettled state.
"I do not understand you quite," she said, after a pause.
"Can you ask me," said Fleetwood impatiently, "if the effects of
such a disclosure, as that which prostrated me body and soul, are
likely to be serious? Do you imagine I have no feeling? I know not how
you may be constituted, but for myself, I can say that such an
occurrence brings with it a life-long gloom, which no subsequent events
can wholly dispel. But we will not allude to this subject again; for I
see it is one where our sympathies must be diverse."
"Excuse me," replied Emily; "but I fear there has been some
misapprehension on my part. All that I have heard of your accident has
been, that it was purely physical. I knew not that there were any
painful associations connected with it: had I done so, believe me I
would never have revived the topic. If I have erred, it has been
through ignorance. Let me show you the blossoms on my new orange tree."
"And is it then possible," asked Fleetwood, "that you are
uninformed of the disclosure, which— which has made me wretched? Do
you not know that she—she, to whom—whom, in short, I had promised to
make my wife—"
"Rest yourself on this sofa," said Emily. "You are agitated. You
shall select another opportunity for this communication."
"No, no—I am very childish," murmured Fleetwood; and suddenly
assuming an air of composure, he added: "She has proved herself
unworthy of the addresses of an honorable man, Miss Emily. The last
time I saw her she was in the embrace of your friend, La Salle."
"Are you certain? Was there no deception? Were you not
duped—cheated by false appearances? Beware! beware! It may be that
both of you have been the victims of a cunningly devised plot."
"My own eyes and ears could not have deceived me. I first saw the
Count, and fully satisfied myself that there could be no mistake as to
the identity. He was alone, or thought himself alone, pacing the room
in the expectation of her coming. Some ejaculations which fell from
him, in the way of a soliloquy, showed that the idea uppermost in his
mind was that of revenging himself on me for robbing him, so he
imagined, of you."
"Ah! I see—I see," interrupted Emily. "It is not then, as I
suspected, a plot—but La Salle, in the recklessness of his resentment,
has—and I—I have been the cause of all this ruin and distress! But,
go on, sir."
"You may imagine what were my sensations while waiting for the
appearance of the female, whom he was expecting. I would not endure
another such moment for a world's wealth. She came—how could I mistake
her? That fatal beauty, which seemed so hallowed by the very soul of
innocence beaming from every lineament, was now not less beautiful, not
less dazzling, than when I first yielded all too willingly to its
spell. She bounded forward into his arms, and allowed him to cover her
cheek with his licentious kisses. You may well start. My heart stood
still at the sight, and refused to fultill its functions. Crushedand
horror-struck, I fell to the floor. You have my story."
"She flew to his arms!" exclaimed Emily, in a hoarse but audible
"Ay, and in the very moment of her treachery, a smile of such
angelic purity was on her lips, that it will haunt me to my dying day.
I never could have believed that guilt could so have disguised itself."
"The caitiff!" muttered Emily, pacing the floor with rapid steps,
while Fleetwood sank into an arm-chair. "The vindictive traitor! I
thought he might seek a manly, honorable revenge, but little dreamed he
would accomplish the ruin of one who had not injured him, for the
gratification of a paltry spite against Fleetwood. Oh, that I were a
man, that I might punish such heartless villany!"
"You are indignant; and with reason," said Fleetwood. "Not even so
black a passion as jealousy should have driven him to so base an act."
"Fleetwood, I will be frank with you," said Emily, suddenly
changing her manner, and standing with folded arms before her guest.
"Pardon me; but I have been playing a part."
"What is your meaning, Miss Gordon?" asked Fleetwood, much
Emily looked cautiously around, as if fearful lest there might be a
listener near. She walked towards the conservatory, and having
satisfied herself that her apprehensions were groundless, she
re-crossed the room rapidly to where Fleetwood sat regarding her
"Yes, I have been playing a part," she said, in a low, earnest and
hurried tone. "The confession is an humbling one, but it shall be made.
At the time I first met you, that man, La Salle, and I were secretly
affianced. He was, or rather seemed tobe, madly in love with me, and my
feelings, if less ostentatiously, were not less deeply interested in
him. I dreaded to communicate the fact of our engagement to my father,
because I knew he had set his heart on my marrying a man of wealth; and
it could not be denied that La Salle was poor. The night you met me at
Mrs. Dryman's, my father had insisted on my going there simply for the
purpose of cultivating the acquaintance of a family at whose house
there was a chance of my encountering you. We met. My father called on
you shortly afterwards, and you became our guest. In an interview we
had that same day, he accused me of entertaining a partiality for La
Salle, and indignantly forbade my extending to him the slightest
encouragement. It was you whom he wished for a son-in-law; and he
threatened me with his heaviest displeasure if I did not instantly
exert all my powers to win your affections. You remember our walk in
the conservatory. Distrusting my own firmness in resisting these
parental importunities, I begged you to fly at once, and marry the
woman of your choice. My father's approach prevented my saying all that
I wished. You neglected or misconstrued my warnings. A subsequent
interview with my father—and my scruples were overcome—but by
arguments the most touching and irresistible that could be addressed to
the heart of a daughter. I will leave it to you to imagine what they
were. I was weak enough to consent to play the hypocrite—to pretend to
be in love with you, in order to awaken that pity which is said to be
akin to love. Foolish that I was, I did not reflect that the heart of a
man was rather to be won by apparent indifference than by obvious
partiality. But in deceiving others we are often apt to deceive
"And you did this, knowing all the while that Iwas betrothed to
another?" asked Fleetwood, with undisguised disdain.
"But you must remember, I was assured that the person you were
about to marry was unworthy of you—that the match was one which would
be a life-long source of misery to you—that in short, it would be a
deed of mercy to detach you from the pursuit, by inducing you to
transfer your affections, even if I did not mean to requite them by the
return of my own."
"Too true! too true!" sighed Fleetwood. "The event has proved,
alas! that it would have been a deed of mercy. This consideration was
perhaps some excuse for your conduct, so far as I was concerned. But
how could you so deceive La Salle?"
"That part of my conduct I shall not venture to extenuate. You must
consider, however, that in the first place I was under the influence of
my father, who threatened me with his lasting displeasure should I
prove contumacious and resist his authority. But I suspect that even
that influence would not have availed to induce me to discard La Salle,
but for the peculiar circumstances under which he found us on the
evening of the thunderstorm. His insulting manner at once roused my
woman's pride. He chose to put a prejudicial construction upon what he
saw. Without stopping to learn the truth, he indulged in a malicious
and offensive sarcasm. How could I condescend to undeceive him after
"I must admit that you did not lack provocation."
"But how can I forgive myself, Fleetwood, for attempting to mislead
you? No sooner had La Salle quitted the house, than I tried to persuade
you that I had never encouraged him to hope for a return of his
attachment. There, I blush to say, Iwas guilty of deception. But the
man's forward vaunting of past favors stung me to the quick. I was
angry and indignant; and felt as if I could have accepted the first man
who proposed for my hand, if it were only to exasperate and punish La
Salle. Little did I dream that he would have taken such a dastardly
revenge. Oh, Fleetwood, it is I, after all, who have brought this
misery upon you!"
"Do not say that, Miss Gordon. Is it not rather you who have saved
me from a much worse infliction, that might have come at some future
day? Think you, I should have been happy with the woman who, with so
much facility, could be shaken in her loyalty? I feel no resentment
towards La Salle. I rather thank him for subjecting her to the test.
That she was found wanting was my misfortune, and not his fault. The
world will expect me to fight him, perhaps, when I recover—but I shall
consult my own tastes and my own convenience exclusively about that."
"You take a strange view of the matter," said Emily. "He has
wounded me far less grievously than he has you, and yet I feel as if I
could take the field against him with a hearty good will; for I now
detest him as heartily as I once loved him."
"You have dealt candidly with me, Miss Gordon," said Fleetwood,
rising, and once more accepting the proffered support of her arm—"you
have dealt candidly with me, and I thank you. I can find a thousand
excuses for the little imposture you practised; and your frank
confession takes away the ungraciousness which it might otherwise wear.
I acknowledge that I was duped—that I was conceited enough to believe
you were enamoured of so humble a person as myself—but I hope you will
not think the worse of me when I say that the belief gave me far more
pain than pleasure. Why should we not confide in each other? My mind
has been strangely diverted and relieved already by this mutual
explanation; and now knowing each other's heart, we need not hesitate
to communicate our thoughts freely and unreservedly."
"To me," replied Emily, "such an interchange will not fail to be
some compensation for what I have suffered and must continue to suffer.
Notwithstanding La Salle's conduct at our last interview, I must
confess I entertained hopes that time and circumstance would bring us
once more together; but since he has proved unworthy, those hopes are
annihilated. Let us trust to time, the great physician, my friend, to
teach us endurance, if not cheerfulness, under our mutual wrongs."
They paced the room for a moment or two in silence.
"I could not have believed," said Fleetwood, "that my heart could
so have misled me as it did in regard to that child—for child she
seems to be, with that face of child-like innocence and beauty."
"But so young—so inexperienced as she is— what resistance could
she offer," said Emily, "to the arts of so consummate a man of the
world as La Salle?"
"Do you then find excuses for her?"
"Yes, many for her, but none for him. I cannot speak my detestation
of his baseness."
"But the circumstances under which I proffered her the protection
of a husband—the relations in which we stood to each other, and to the
world, were of such a character that—alas! it is folly to deplore the
past. Let me hear music, Emily— music that shall bring a new and more
welcome train of thoughts."
A smile of pleased surprise passed over her lips. It was the first
time he had addressed her by the familiar name of Emily.
Fleetwood experienced a relapse in his maladythe day after this
interview, and was obliged to keep his bed for a considerable time. Mr.
Gordon contrived that Emily should be his nurse and constant attendant.
She beguiled the tedious hours of his illness by reading, conversation
and music. Her harp was transported to his room, and, at his request,
she brought her embroidery work and sewing, with which to occupy
herself when wearied with other employments, or when the invalid had
sunk into a momentary slumber. With her own hands she poured out the
fever draughts which the physician had prescribed to be given to him at
regular intervals. With her own hands she administered food, and
supplied fresh pillows for his heated head.
The scheme was prospering beyond Gordon's most sanguine hopes. A
few hints to the physician, who was, by the way, a very accommodating
person, and it seemed as if a successful termination might be speedily
"I should recommend your making a visit to Europe, my young
friend," said Dr. Brisk, one morning, when he found himself alone with
"I have been thinking of the same thing, Doctor," replied
Fleetwood. "When can you let me go? I will leave in the very next
"That will depart in a week; and I see no reason why you should not
be well enough to embark in her," said the doctor.
"See that I have a good birth secured at once, my dear doctor,"
returned Fleetwood. "I can speedily make my arrangements to quit this
country. I have no longer any ties to detain me here."
"None whatever! Should I die, 'who will there be to mourn for
Logan? Not one!"'
"Do not be too sure of that. Either my observationshave deceived me
most unaccountably, or there is one at least, who will lament your
absence and sigh for your return."
"You must be under a mistake, doctor. To whom do you refer?"
"To Emily Gordon."
"Confess now, doctor," said Fleetwood, "that you are less sagacious
than you believed yourself to be. Emily's attachment is not a serious
one. She has told me as much with her own lips. She was in love with La
Salle, until he proved himself recreant."
"But in finding a worthier object, may not her affections have been
transferred with redoubled strength?"
"Ah, my dear doctor, affections are like season tickets to a
theatre, not transferable."
"My own experience contradicts that remark," said the doctor. "How
long is it since Emily gave you to understand that you were an object
of indifference to her?"
"It was on the day I first went down in the parlor after my removal
to this house."
"Exactly; but there may have been a change since that time in her
views. You make no allowance for the effect upon a woman's heart of
tending upon a young man in the capacity of a nurse. Pity melts the
soul to love; and in this case I am sure that another element than
friendship enters into the watchfulness, with which I have seen her sit
by you while you slept, and start to anticipate your wants when you
awaked. Why, man, she has actually become pale and thin, though you may
not have remarked it, with the confinement of this sick room and the
care she has bestowed upon you."
"She has indeed been an attentive nurse," remarked Fleetwood. "It
was selfish in me not toperceive that she was injuring herself by her
unwearied attendance on her invalid guest."
"Could you but have seen what I witnessed the other day," said Dr.
Brisk, "you would not entertain much doubt as to the truth of my
surmises in regard to the state of her affections."
"And what did you see?"
"It happened the night before last," said the doctor. "I had told
Emily, that I should call during the evening to give you a composing
draught. Accident detained me till past midnight. Fortunately Mr.
Gordon had given me a pass-key, so that I entered the street-door
without wakening the family. Ascending the stairs on tip-toe, I opened
the door of your room so noiselessly that my entrance hardly created
the slightest sound or motion. Emily stood by your bed-side."
"And had she sat up so late to watch by me?" exclaimed Fleetwood.
"She seemed like one who had neither slept nor coveted sleep for
many hours," resumed the Doctor. "She held a lamp in her hand, the
light of which she shaded from your face, while she regarded you with a
smile, which spoke nothing if not the tenderest affection. She placed
the lamp upon a chair, and bending over you, listened intently to your
breathing as if to satisfy herself that you were in a grateful slumber.
And at length, removing the hair gently from your pale forehead, she
stooped and pressed her lips to it, and then, as if frightened at her
temerity, turned suddenly and screamed on beholding me."
"Indeed! I never should have suspected that she felt thus tenderly
towards me," said Fleetwood.
"Because pride makes her disguise her feelings," replied the
doctor. "On seeing that I had inadvertentlybecome possessed of her
secret, she simply remarked, 'Doctor, I rely upon your discretion, your
honor,' and quitted the apartment."
"And do you really think, doctor, that I would do wisely to make
her my wife?"
"It seems to me, that under existing circumstances, you could not
take a more judicious step," said Dr. Brisk. "Your health is likely to
be delicate, your spirits variable, for some months, perhaps years, to
come. In your travels you will feel the want of an intelligent
companion, and one, who, like Emily, has showed herself no unskilful or
inattentive nurse. So much for the selfish view of the subject; there
is another, that I am sure will appeal with no less force to your
heart. A visit to Europe is quite as important at this time to Emily's
health as to your own. Indeed I should have serious fears for her life,
should you leave her behind, hopeless and desolate. Recent
circumstances have affected both of you in such a manner as should
waken the keenest sympathies of each. Why not study to make amends,
each to the other, for the wrongs you have experienced?"
"Doctor!" exclaimed Fleetwood angrily; "when I have a physical
wound, I will ask your advice. Those of the heart do not need your
tending." And then, remarking the bland and innocent expression upon
the physician's face, he added—"Pardon me if I was hasty—but you
touched me nearly. I will give due consideration to what you have said.
I will reflect calmly and dispassionately upon the course, which it is
incumbent upon me to pursue. In short, I will take Shakspere's advice,
and negotiate for myself in these affairs. I thank you for your
counsel, believing it to be dictated by a sincere regard for my
"I fear I have been too obstrusive, too meddlesome," said Dr.
Brisk; "but you forget that you encouraged me by asking my advice."
"So I did," returned Fleetwood; "and I beg your forgiveness for
having received it as I sometimes do your medicine, with wry faces."
The doctor took his leave, and Fleetwood paced the room in an
anxious and perturbed mood. That same day he was informed by Mr.
Gordon, that La Salle had left the city with a young woman, who, from
the description, was evidently Adelaide. The news created no surprise
in Fleetwood's mind, for, after what he had himself witnessed, no
additional proof of her infidelity could strengthen his convictions.
Being left to himself he pondered intently on all that Dr. Brisk had
said, and on the circumstances in which he found himself involved.
"Can it be," he asked, "that Emily will be content with such a
dull, dead heart as I should bring her? What is it like but the wasted
and blackened frame-work, which is all that remains of some brilliant
fireworks, that flashed gloriously for a moment upon the night, and
then went out in utter darkness? But I will judge for myself whether
the Doctor is right in his surmises. I will test for myself the state
of her feelings towards me; and if it should appear that her happiness
is really dependant in any measure on my movements, why, then— then I
will leave it to the impulse of the moment to do what is most
becoming—to guide me aright."
Fleetwood rose the next morning, feeling far better in health and
spirits than he had done since the day of his prostration. It was one
of those delicious mornings in June, when the very sense of existence
is a joy, so graciously smile the heavens —so invitingly blooms the
earth—such luxury is it to breathe the fresh, fragrant and elastic
air! He attired himself with more than ordinary elegance, as if nature
had set him an example, which he wasbound to imitate. Entering the
suite of luxurious apartments below, he paced them with a tread more
buoyant than he had been accustomed to practice. The windows that led
into the conservatory were open, and the eastern sunshine streamed in
among the verdure, while the soft summer breeze sent a flood of odors
stolen from the flowers through the apartments. The canary birds in
their gilt cages were singing as if ready to split their little throats
in greeting with honors due the beautiful day; and the very fountain,
as it sprang glistening from its marble basin, seemed to send up from
its falling waters a sort of bell-ringing music, expressive of delight.
"How sweet, how animating are these influences!" thought Fleetwood.
"God never takes away from us so much, that he does not leave us enough
to awaken our continual wonder and gratitude—enough to fill our hearts
and occupy our thoughts! In this conservatory alone, there are
materials for a life-time of absorbing study and observation. There is
not a leaf, which does not preach of omnipotence and infinity, had we
but the ears to listen."
At that instant he heard a door open and close, and, as he issued
from the conservatory into the parlor, he encountered Emily. Her eyes
seemed heavy, as if "with unshed tears," and her cheeks were unusually
pale. Poor girl! She had just come from an interview with her father,
and the task that he had imposed upon her was a severe one.
Fleetwood did not fail to notice the change in her aspect, and
called to mind the observations which Dr. Brisk had made the day
After congratulating her on the beauty of the morning, he offered
his arm for a promenade. Each seemed absorbed in thought for some
moments, as if studying how to frame a remark. Fleetwood was the first
"Thanks to your kind watching, Emily," he said, "I am again on the
road to recovery. But my physician recommends that I should visit
Europe— what think you of the idea?"
Emily remained silent. There was a terrible sense of oppression at
her heart. She had been commanded by her father to play the
hypocrite—to pretend to be the victim of a passion which she did not
feel—and a reluctant consent had been wrung from her. The
consciousness that her very agitation would now be construed falsely by
Fleetwood added to her anguish, and yet she dared not undeceive him,
such had been the terrible imperiousness of her father.
"Emily, we promised each other that we would speak frankly," said
Fleetwood; "you first set me the example, and I am sure you will not
think the worse of me for following it. So recent is this affliction
that has bowed me to the earth, that you cannot suppose me capable of
replacing at once, by a new tie, that which has been so fatally
severed. Ah, I cannot tell you what I have lost in her! If you knew how
I had stored my future with all bright things because of her, and how
it now seems all weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, you would not
wonder at the crushing effect which the discovery of her unworthiness
has had upon me. My heart seems closed to any new affection—arid, dark
and desolate, love and joy must ever find there but an inhospitable
reception. But the blow which felled me to the earth, has fallen
lightly upon you; and I have been told—remember, we have promised to
be ingenuous—I have been told that my departure would take from your
own lot some of its brightness—that—"
A suppressed sob from Emily interrupted him in his remarks.
Withdrawing her arm from his, she covered her face with her hands.
"Hear me to the end, Emily," he continued. "I frankly tell you how
bankrupt is the heart I have to offer you. In love with you I am not,
and never can be, in the romantic acceptation of the phrase. But you
have won my esteem, my admiration, as you must that of all who can
appreciate the beautiful and the good. I should make you a true and
indulgent, if not an affectionate husband;—and if I can contribute to
your happiness by assuming that relation towards you, I pray you let us
join our fates. I offer you my hand—will you accept it?"
With a despairing gesture, Emily sank upon the sofa, and bowed her
head upon the pillow. Then suddenly rising, she said, with sudden
"I will repay your noble candor—I cannot see you deceived by my
own acts into supposing that—"
At this moment she looked round the room distrustingly, as if
hearing a sound which bade her pause, and then, with a shudder, she
placed her hand in Fleetwood's, and exclaimed:—
"Fleetwood, I am yours!"
Mr. Gordon immediately made his appearance, and, seeing Fleetwood's
arm about his daughter's waist, gave utterance to a significant cough.
Fleetwood turned, and telling Emily, who seemed violently agitated,
to be calm, said to Mr. Gordon:—
"Congratulate me, sir, on my good fortune. Your daughter has
promised to be my wife."
"Most heartily do I rejoice at it, my dear Fleetwood," replied Mr.
Gordon, taking him by the hand. "You have made this the happiest day of
"When shall we be married, Emily?" askedFleetwood. "Let it be
without delay; for I care not how soon I leave this country for
"Do you not hear, Emily?" said her father. "Frederick asks you to
fix the happy day."
"Let it be when you will—when you will," replied Emily—and, with
a sigh, she fainted in the arms that were supporting her.
"Poor child! She faints from very excess of happiness," said Mr.
Gordon, ringing the bell, and calling for a tumbler of cold water.
At lover's perjuries, Jove laughs.
Two weeks after her interview with her supposed brother, Adelaide
might have been seen seated in the room where that interview had taken
place. She sat lost in thought—her eyes fixed and dilated, as if the
subject, in which she was so absorbed, was painful in its nature.
It may be remembered, that Mr. Gordon, on learning from Glenham
that there was danger of La Salle's disclosing the plot, of which he
had been made the centre-wheel, had concluded that it would be
necessary to remove Adelaide from her present place of abode, in order
to prevent a discovery which would materially interfere with the
success of his plans. On consulting with Mrs. Winfield, they abandoned
this idea. All that would be necessary would be to prevent the Count's
seeing Adelaidein the event of his calling, and to persuade him if
possible that she had left the city, so that he might discontinue his
visits. The scheme thus arranged was successfully carried out. La Salle
had been baffled in all his attempts to learn whether or no she was in
The same devices, which had been hitherto employed to mislead
Adelaide in regard to the cause of Fleetwood's absence, were continued
with success for some days after the period which he had fixed for
their wedding. And then, as she began to grow solicitous and alarmed,
Glenham appeared and helped to keep up the delusion, by assigning new
and specious reasons for his friend's apparent neglect. In one of the
forged letters which she had received, Fleetwood had been made to
commend this young man to her confidence; and though she experienced an
indefinable sort of dislike towards him, she had never yet distrusted
the genuineness of his professions or the truth of his assertions. His
inventive faculties were pretty severely tasked by the questions which
she put. The absence of her supposed brother, as well as of her lover,
was a matter which required explanation. Adelaide united a child-like
ignorance of the world, as experience shows it, to a premature
knowledge of it as exhibited in books. It was not difficult to persuade
her that "Ernest," as she called him, had encountered some opposition
at the Custom House, which required his immediate presence in
Washington, as well to vindicate his character as to look after his
But Adelaide had other reasons beside that natural distrust, which
must soon have sprung up in her mind, for her present disturbed and
anxiously meditative mood. At his last two visits, Glenham had thrown
out mysterious hints in regard to Fleetwood, which had awakened her
intensest solicitude.At first these givings-out were mere expressions
of amazement at his prolonged absence, and declarations of inability to
explain why he should suspend writing to Adelaide. Then came the dark
inuendo, the deprecatory insinuation. the torturing doubt. Under the
mask of a disinterested concern for her welfare, Glenham succeeded in
winning her confidence. He had promised her that he would satisfy
himself once for all whether Fleetwood was, as he had pretended to be,
at his country-place, detained by engagements which he could not
neglect, or whether he had arrived in the city, and had deferred
calling from illness or any other cause. She was now waiting, in a
state of cruel suspense, the coming of Glenham, who had promised to
bring her some definite information on the subject that morning.
To doubt was to despair with Adelaide. She would not, therefore,
even entertain a suspicion of Fleetwood's truth; but she feared that
some accident had occurred to him, the effects of which were dangerous,
and which he was trying to keep concealed from her, from motives of
Suddenly Glenham entered the room, and, without pausing to salute
her, began pacing the floor as if agitated and indignant.
"What has happened, Mr. Glenham, that you appear thus excited?"
exclaimed Adelaide, in a tone of alarm.
"Ah! how shall I communicate it to you, Miss Adelaide?" said
Glenham, shaking his head mournfully. "I fear that you cannot bear it,
or that you will not believe it—and yet nothing can be more true."
"Does it concern Fleetwood?"
Adelaide was silent for nearly a minute, while her heart beat
violently and her cheeks grew pale, and she grasped with both hands the
arms of thechair in which she sat. At length, as if nerving herself to
endure the worst, she said: "Speak freely. I am prepared to hear."
"To keep you no longer in suspense, then, Miss Adelaide, Fleetwood
has forsaken you—and he is now affianced to another."
Adelaide instantly rose, her hands resting upon the arms of the
chair. She surveyed Glenham a moment with an expression of incredulous
scorn, uttered the simple exclamation, "Slanderer!" and sank back into
"I was prepared for this incredulity," said he; "but you do me
injustice; and—I grieve to say it— I can point out to you the means
of satisfying yourself at once, that what I have told you is true. The
lady, to whom Fleetwood is engaged, resides in this city. Her name is
"Emily Gordon!" exclaimed Adelaide—"and does she reside in Camden
"It must be the same," said Glenham, much amazed. "Are you
acquainted with her?"
"No; but I found a card bearing that name and address, in a book
which my mother procured for me the other day. I will instantly call on
"No—n-n-no! that would never do!" stammered Glenham, who did not
know what might be the result of such an encounter. "That would not be
the best way to satisfy your doubts."
"Doubts! I have no doubts!" said Adelaide scornfully, rising and
moving towards the door. "But I owe it to the lady to tell her what I
have heard this day. Good morning, sir."
And she quitted the room.
Glenham rang the bell violently and asked for Mrs. Winfield. She
was not in the house. He was in despair. Should he run to Mr. Gordon's,
and put him on his guard? The hour was onewhen that gentleman was
almost certain to be from home. While Glenham was yet hesitating what
to do, Adelaide, who had donned her bonnet and shawl, passed out of the
front door into the street. He thrust on his hat, and rushed after
her—but what could he do? Any remonstrances he might make would excite
her suspicions. He found himself caught in his own toils. The straight
forwardness of Adelaide's character had been more than a match for his
own craft. Her decision had baffled his calculating and elaborated
policy. He slunk along the streets keeping his eyes fixed upon her
movements, without daring to let her know that he was following her,
and without being able to invent any new lie, by which he could defeat
Adelaide had little difficulty in finding the house of Mr. Gordon.
She rang, and asked to see Miss Emily. The servant replied that she had
gone out to walk. "I will wait for her return," said Adelaide; and the
servant ushered her into the parlor, bowed and left the room. The
weather was warm; and Adelaide, attracted by the sight of flowers and
falling water, moved towards the conservatory. She had not been there
two minutes when she heard the sound of footsteps and a voice, which
made her tremble. Indeed so powerless did agitation render her, that
she was obliged to cling to the nearest object, which happened to be
the trunk of an orange tree, for support. As she looked through the
leaves, which concealed her from view, into the suite of rooms beyond,
she saw Fleetwood enter with a lady on his arm. They approached a sofa,
upon which they sat down as if fatigued by their stroll. The sight
seemed to paralyse the functions of motion in Adelaide. For an instant,
she could not move—she could not speak. She thought she must be under
the influence of some horrid night-mare,and that all that had passed
and was passing before her was but a dream.
"To-morrow, then, Emily," said Fleetwood, "to-morrow sees us
united! Why do you sigh? One would think you had half repented of this
"Oh, no—no!" replied Emily. "We ought to be very happy. I am sure
I shall make one person happy, and that is my father—and I shall try,
Fleetwood, to make you happy also."
Adelaide had been from compulsion a listener to these words. Their
first effect was terrible; and she thought she would have swooned. But
a sense of her situation, and, perhaps, an emotion of pride came to her
relief, and made her sinews bear her "stiffly up." The conclusion at
which she at once arrived was, that Fleetwood, surrounded by the luxury
and affluence visible in this abode, had become ashamed of his
allegiance to one, who was the child of obscurity, perhaps of dishonor.
The sickening feeling of desertion, of desolation, then came over her,
and almost bowed her to the earth. But she knew if she gave way to it
she was lost.
What should she do? Should she pass out of the room before the eyes
of Fleetwood and the new companion of his choice, or should she escape
unobserved by a side-door, which led into the passage communicating
with the front entrance of the house? She feared that her remaining
strength would give way should she confront Fleetwood; and what purpose
could the meeting answer? The evidence against him was irresistible.
There could be no delusion in what she had seen and heard. What further
testimony could she ask?
But even in that moment of doubt and desolation, she could not
endure the idea of skulking like a criminal from the presence of her
whom she had come to seek; and severe as the trial was, she resolvedto
take the bold and ingenuous alternative. With a bearing at once modest
and majestic she stepped forth from her place of concealment, and
advanced towards Emily. Fleetwood started up with amazement, as if
appalled by the sight of a spectre; for Adelaide, with a little aid
from the imagination, might well have passed for one, such was the
luminous pallor of her countenance.
"If this is Miss Gordon," said Adelaide, "it is she whom I came to
seek. But I have already attained the object of my errand, and it is
unnecessary that I should say more. I will take my leave."
She was moving towards the door.
"Adelaide!" exclaimed Fleetwood, gasping for utterance.
"Adelaide! And is this Adelaide?" asked Emily in a tone of pity and
Adelaide turned, cast a glance full of mournful dignity upon
Fleetwood, and then slowly resumed her steps towards the door.
"Adelaide! speak to me!" exclaimed Fleetwood in a tone of the
acutest anguish—"was it not all some horrid delusion—a dream—a trick
of the senses?"
Adelaide paused; there was a mystery in Fleetwood's interrogation,
which she could not fathom. The moment was a crisis in her fate. A
straw might turn the balance either way—so as to result in a
triumphant explanation of all doubtful circumstances or in a renewed
conviction of her unworthiness. Alas! her evil genius prevailed.
At that juncture, Mrs. Winfield burst into the room.
"Why, my dear, dear daughter, are you here?" she exclaimed
approaching Adelaide, who inadvertently recoiled from her touch. "How
could you leave your old mother? Come home—come home, and all shall be
forgiven. Has the villainforsaken you after promising you marriage?
Never mind, my dear—never mind!"
"Oh, this humiliation is too much!" groaned Adelaide, rushing from
"Poor thing! poor thing!" said Mrs. Winfield, turning to Emily.
"Was it not a sin and a shame. Miss, for that Count what-d'ye-call-him
to treat the child so basely? I could tear his eyes out— I could!"
Fleetwood was confounded. If the day-dream had ever occurred to him
that there was still a possibility of Adelaide's innocence, this last
occurrence must forever dispel it.
"Poor, degraded Adelaide!" he exclaimed. "Did ever sin so clothe
itself in the vesture of an angel!"
Mrs. Winfield rejoined her daughter on the outer steps, and
hurrying her into the carriage, which stood in waiting at the
side-walk, drove home in silence.
For days, Adelaide could not weep, although she ever repaid with a
faint smile any little office of kindness proffered by those around
her. But the fountain of tears seemed to have been parched up.
It is related of Southey, that during the eclipse of his
magnificent intellect in his latter days, when a gloomy derangement had
shut out the immortal soul from the regular use of its accustomed
medium of communication with the external world, he retained to the
last his old affection for books. He would find his way to his splendid
library, and there sit with a black letter volume open on his lap,
gazing on one page for hours, and at times moving his fingers, as if
making written extracts.
And Adelaide, having been accustomed to find a never failing solace
in books, now sat with some favorite volume in her hands, and her eyes
fixed on some page, although her thoughts might be far away. At length
a passage, which she had gazedat for a long while without taking in its
meaning aroused her attention. The lines were these:
"Nature hath assigned
Two sovereign remedies for human grief;
Religion, surest, firmest, first and best,
And strenuous action next."
"Ay, it is true," she said, with a melancholy smile. "I feel that
it is true—but this desolation of the heart—this tearless,
passionless sorrow seems as if it were without a remedy—as if death
only could end it."
The thought had hardly found utterance when a strain of music from
the street beneath the window at which she sat, fell on her ear. It was
the noisy garish hour of noon, and the rumbling of cars over the
pavements, joined to the cries of the peripatetic venders of radishes,
strawberries and other articles of summer consumption, afforded little
opportunity for the musicians, whosoever they might be, to make
themselves heard. But above all the chaotic tumult, and running through
it like a vein of pure gold through a rocky mass composed of baser
substances, floated a melody, which at once made her start and listen
as if her very life depended on the hearing.
Where and when had she heard that strain? And why should it bring
back such a throng of happy images and thoughts? It was as if her soul
were suddenly transported over dreary years to a time of contentment
and joy in the sunny season of childhood. She seemed to breathe
"A purer ether, a diviner air!"
It was as if her spirit had thrown off the memory of all
intervening events, and, by some miracle, had renewed its youth. While
she listened, her tears fell profusely—her breast heaved—and, when
the music ceased, she exclaimed half sobbing and halflaughing—"I have
wept at last! I feared I should never weep again!"
The melody was one which she was accustomed to hear years before
when she lived in the family of Greutze, the German musician. Looking
out of the window she saw two females and a boy, who, by their dress,
were evidently foreigners. The younger female, a pale and interesting
girl, played upon the harp, and the other sang in a feeble but sweet
and cultivated voice. From the strap over the boy's shoulder, and the
cap in his hand, it was apparently his office to carry the harp and
receive the scanty pennies, which the passers-by, who lingered to
listen, might choose to bestow. There was that in the appearance of
each member of the group, which spoke their superiority to the common
class of strolling melodists. Moved by the unobtrusive and unsuccessful
appeal, which they made for charity to their audience, as well as by
gratitude for the effect which their music had produced, Adelaide took
a gold piece from her purse, and hurrying down stairs into the street,
placed it in the hands of the harp-player. The young woman looked at
the gift and at the giver with astonishment. She held the gold piece
displayed in her hand, as if tacitly enquiring whether there was not
some mistake—she could hardly realize that such munificence was real.
"How long have you been in New York?" asked Adelaide in German;
for, from an exclamation, which the boy had made, she at once guessed
the country of their birth.
"We came here last winter, Miss," said the elder of the two women,
who was apparently agreeably surprised to find that their benefactor
could speak their native language. "We came in the expectation of
meeting a brother, who had sent for us, and who promised to provide for
our wants. On arrivingin this city we learned that he had left for
Hamburgh in a ship, which has never since been heard of. Our little
supply of money was soon exhausted; and had we not met a friend, who
lent us this harp, with which to earn what we may, we should soon have
been utterly destitute."
"Is this your sister?" asked Adelaide, pointing to the younger
"I thank Heaven that I can say she is," was the reply—"for what
would I and my five motherless children do without her? Is she not our
support and our pride—laboring for us all day, although we have no
right to look to her for a penny?"
"Where did you learn that tune you played last?" asked Adelaide
turning to the younger sister.
"I lived for some months in the family of a musician named
Greutze," replied the harp-player. "He returned to the village where we
dwelt, some years since from this country. Seeing that I had a taste
for music he was kind enough to instruct me, although, Miss, I was a
mere servant in the family."
"It was like him to do so!" exclaimed Adelaide, while her eyes
filled again with tears. "Did you leave them well—the Greutzes?"
"And did you know them, Miss? Is it possible?"
"I lived with them for some years, and loved them much. How could
you have abandoned such a home?"
The harp-player hung her head; and the elder sister, leading
Adelaide away a few steps, said, in a whisper: "Poor child! it was no
fault of hers. A young man in the village had promised her marriage. He
forgot his promise one day, and having thrived rapidly in the world,
married a daughter of the musician. Minnie (that's my sister) never
would tell her wrongs, for she saw that her young mistress loved the
man. About that time cameour brother's invitation to us to visit New
York. 'Let us go,' said Minnie. 'It is best for me that I should leave
this place.' I saw her meaning. We straightway left
Germany—and—and—you know the rest."
Adelaide had been visibly agitated while the woman was relating
these circumstances; but seeing that several inquisitive individuals
among the passers-by had stopped to stare at her, she concluded to
bring the interview to a close, although anxious to ask many questions
about her old friend Greutze and his family.
"In what part of the city do you live?" she asked, turning to the
younger and more intelligent woman.
"I see you have a pencil. I will write the direction for you on the
blank leaf of your book," said Minnie.
In her haste Adelaide had retained in her hand the book, which she
had been reading. She handed it with her pencil to the harp-player, who
wrote and returned them.
"God bless you, sweet lady," said the woman, and the words were
echoed both by the sister and the boy.
"I hope to see you again soon," said Adelaide; and, with a smile
and a wave of the hand, she left them, and re-entered the house.
O night, and shades!
How are ye join'd with hell in triple knot
Against the unarmed weakness of the virgin,
Alone and helpless!
"Ungrateful that I have been!" thought Adelaide as she ascended the
stairs to the room, which she had recently occupied. "This poor,
uneducated peasant girl sets me an example of fortitude and patience! I
will follow it. I will no longer waste my days in idle repining. I will
go forth into the world. I will exert the talents which God has given
me. I will make myself useful to my fellow-creatures."
While entertaining reflections like these, a servant brought in Mr.
Glenham's card, remarking that the gentleman was below. Adelaide had
declined seeing Mr. Glenham on all the occasions— and they were
many—that he had called, since the day of her visit to the house of
Mr. Gordon. But now, as the first step towards keeping her new
resolutions, she determined to give him an audience.
Glenham could not disguise the admiration, with which he regarded
Adelaide, as she now entered the room where he was sitting. Distress of
mind had robbed her features of none of their charms. They had lost a
certain archness and piquancy of expression, which they used
occasionally to wear; but in its place there was a composure, a
serenity, such as limners give to their angels.
After interchanging greetings with him, Adelaide asked: "Do you
hear anything of my brother, Mr. Glenham?"
Glenham turned away his head, and appeared confused.
"You hesitate! Has anything happened to him?" continued Adelaide in
a tone of alarm.
"Ah, Miss Adelaide," said Glenham, "why is it my lot ever to come
to you as the messenger of unhappy tidings? I hardly dare tell you all
that has come to my knowledge in regard to circumstances, in which you
have been recently involved— but I owe it to you—to myself—to
disburthen my mind. You have been the victim of a conspiracy. He whom
you believed to be your brother was an impostor. He is no kinsman of
"Ernest not my brother! Impossible! I could not have been deceived.
There was all the brother in his look, when we parted," said Adelaide.
"O, I doubt not that he played his part quite adroitly," said
Glenham; "but he was nevertheless an actor in a plot—an infamous
"How could my mother have been imposed upon!" exclaimed Adelaide.
"Ah, there is the most afflicting part of what I have to
communicate!" replied Glenham.
"Speak out, Mr. Glenham—there are few things, which I cannot now
bear to hear with calmness," said Adelaide.
"And yet what I have to say must inevitably strike you with
consternation and grief," resumed Glenham; "and I fear that I shall
again have to make you distrust my veracity."
"No," said Adelaide, with a mournful movement of her head: "after
what has passed there is little fear that I shall be again
"Your mother, Miss Adelaide—"
"Ah, what of her?" exclaimed Adelaide, with an involuntary shudder.
"Hush!" said Glenham, sinking his voice to awhisper, and looking
cautiously around the room. "Are we in no danger of being overheard?"
"And what, sir, if we are?" replied Adelaide. "There can be no
secret between us in any event."
"Alas! I know not that," said Glenham mysteriously. "Your mother,
Miss Adelaide, was a party to the plot laid for your ruin."
"How, for my ruin?" asked Adelaide, in a tone of amazement.
"Must I speak plainly?" said Glenham. "Know then, that your
mother—that this house—pardon my agitation. In a word, Miss Adelaide,
you cannot be seen entering this house or issuing from it, without
being considered infamous in the eyes of the world. Your mother is
unworthy of such a child as you. She is a degraded woman; and, what is
worse, she does not hide her degradation."
In spite of her predetermination to be calm, Adelaide could not but
feel the crushing effect of this last blow. She seemed to writhe like
the tortured Laocoon in the folds of the pestiferous serpent; and she
pressed against her eyes with her closed fists as if to shut out the
hideous thoughts which Glenham's words had suggested. Unconsciously she
sighed several times like one in the extreme of pain; and for a minute
the internal struggle that was going on threatened to rend her delicate
frame. At length, with a sudden effort, she recovered her presence of
mind, and sat erect with the mien of one nerved to a heroic calmness.
"Why was I made to believe," she asked, "that I had a brother?"
"Can you not imagine?" returned Glenham. "The young man came here
for the most detestable purposes. He had the consent of your mother to
reduce you—if he could so far undermine your principles of virtue—to
her own infamous level. But you are faint?"
"Go on, sir. You see—you see I am quite composed."
"The young man," said Glenham, "was struck with contrition on
finding you so young, so innocent; and he left you—to expostulate with
your mother, who then ordered him out of the house."
Adelaide rose and laid her hand upon the bell-rope.
"What would you do?" exclaimed Glenham, alarmed.
"I would see my mother, and hear what she has to say to your
charges," replied Adelaide.
"Stay but a moment," said Glenham, imploringly, arresting her in
the act of ringing.
Adelaide withdrew her hand.
"Ah me! What's to be done, should this prove true?" she exclaimed,
as if addressing the question to her own heart. "With such a mother I
am more bereaved than an orphan—without a brother —without a
friend—what shall I do?"
"Do not say you are friendless, while I am here, Adelaide," said
Glenham, with a sad attempt to look irresistible.
Adelaide recoiled from him at this familiar use of her name. With
what joy she had heard it, when Fleetwood first addressed her with the
same absence of form!
"Hear me, Adelaide," continued Glenham, without perceiving her
aversion. "Accept the honorable refuge, which I offer you, from all
your dangers and griefs. I tendered you my hand when I thought your
position as unexceptionable as my own—when I believed you to be
wealthy, courted and caressed—and now, when these illusions are
gone—when I see you discarded, exposed to insult and degradation, and
subjected to social exclusions by the stain of birth, I renew my offer,
and beseech you to listen to my suit. Surely the generosity,the
disinterestedness of my attachment are now placed beyond a doubt."
"You must have strange ideas of generosity, sir," said Adelaide,
approaching the bell, and ringing it, "to select an opportunity like
this for addressing to me a renewal of your offensive proposal."
It may be well to say in this place, that Glenham's pretended
disclosures contained some truth, mixed up with a considerable quantity
of falsehood. Whatever may have been Mrs. Winfield's delinquencies in
past years, she was now, and had been from the time of Adelaide's
birth, so far as outward appearances were concerned, perfectly
respectable. She lived secluded, and, although she kept a carriage, and
was evidently in the enjoyment of abundant means, yet there was no
disposition evinced on her part to attract public attention, or to make
a show. She belonged, ostensibly at least, to one of the most rigorous
religious sects; and, as she gave largely to the church of which she
was a member, she was regarded even by those who were aware of her
history, as a reclaimed sinner, who deserved to be countenanced and
upheld. She was visited by none but persons of character and
respectability, and Adelaide had never detected aught that could be
recalled to substantiate Glenham's assertions. And yet when she
recollected an occasional coarseness of expression or a trait of
vulgarity, she dreaded lest they might all be true.
For reasons, which we must leave it to the sequel to explain, Mrs.
Winfield was now exceedingly anxious that Glenham and Adelaide should
be united; and she had recently had several anxious conferences with
the gentleman for the purpose of arranging some new plot for the
achievement of their purposes. The notable one which he finally hit
upon, was that, which may be inferred from his interviewwith Adelaide.
He thought it would be an easy matter to persuade her, that her only
chance of receiving honorable protection was in uniting herself to him,
and that it was a moral duty as well as a matter of advantage for her
to accede to his proposal. The necessity of speedy action on his part
was evident from the recent visit which she had made to Emily Gordon.
Had he not, by the merest accident, met Mrs. Winfield in her carriage,
and put her upon her guard, a developement fatal to their plans would
inevitably have been the result. He had, after some persuasion, induced
this woman to agree to his present scheme, and to uphold, should it be
necessary to do so, in order to influence Adelaide, all the falsehoods
he had told her in regard to the reputation of her mother's house.
Having received Adelaide's summons, Mrs. Winfield now entered the
room. Her demeanor was not, as it was habitually, imperious and
bustling; but she had the air of a culprit, who shrinks from the
interrogations to which he is about to be subjected.
"Is it true—what this man tells me?" exclaimed Adelaide, advancing
and looking her firmly in the face. "O, tell me, is it true? Have I
been indeed deceived? Was he not my brother, who met me here as such,
and who received me with what I supposed a brother's embrace? You are
silent— you hesitate! "Can it be true? And are you then my mother?"
"Forgive me, Adelaide; but—"
"Forgive you! And do you then admit that I have anything to
forgive? O, you cannot be my mother, if what he tells me is true! The
same blood flows not in our veins—the same instincts plead not in our
hearts—the same fire kindles not our souls! O, are you indeed my
"And how dare you, sir," said Mrs. Winfield,turning to Glenham with
well-feigned resentment, "how dare you slander me to my own child?"
"You cannot deny, madam, the truth of what I have told her,"
replied Glenham. "You cannot deny that the person you introduced as her
brother was an impostor. Be careful, or I shall bring witnesses to
prove all that I have said."
Mrs. Winfield looked abashed and turned away without replying.
"You do not speak, madam—you do not indignantly repel his
charges!" exclaimed Adelaide. "O, tell me, have I a brother, or did you
deceive me in telling me that I had one?"
"Pray don't take on so, child," said Mrs. Winfield, apparently not
knowing what to say. "Where was the harm, if, for the sake of a joke, I
made you think the young man was your brother?"
"A joke! Alas! mothers do not joke in that manner," replied
Adelaide. "I have been betrayed! Is there no one on whom I can rely? Am
I alone—all, all alone in the wide world?"
"Ah, Miss Adelaide, let me guide you in safety from this house,"
said Glenham. "I will protect— will succor you. If you will not suffer
me to be a husband, you will at least grant me the privileges of a
"And you, madam, are you willing that I should place myself under
his protection?" asked Adelaide, turning a look of piercing inquiry
upon Mrs. Winfield.
"Yes, child, go!" said Mrs. Winfield, "since he has persuaded you
that you are not sufficiently protected in my house."
Adelaide paused, and seemed to be in deep thought for a moment. And
then, glancing at Glenham, she said, "Wait till you hear from me," and
quitted the room.
"Poor thing!" exclaimed Mrs. Winfield, as thedoor closed. "Do you
know, Glenham, that I was several times on the point of coming out with
the whole truth?"
"And, if you had, I should certainly have strangled you," said
Glenham. "Do you not see she is wavering, and that before another day
she will consent to an immediate marriage? Once let her place herself
under my protection, and it will be easy to persuade her that her
reputation is gone forever unless she becomes my wife."
"I don't know what to make of her sometimes," said Mrs. Winfield.
"Gentle and soft as she seems to be, I felt while she was talking just
as if I should have gone down on my knees, and confessed everything if
she had but said the word. I wish that you and Gordon had been further
before you led me into this business."
"Nonsense! I shall make her a pattern of a husband," said Glenham;
"and she will be much happier with me than she would have been with
that purse-proud Fleetwood."
"I would not harm the poor child for the world," rejoined Mrs.
Winfield; "and if I thought you would ever ill-treat her, Glenham, I
would not give her to you for twice the amount of her dowry."
The conversation between these partners in iniquity was continued
nearly an hour longer; when Glenham becoming impatient at Adelaide's
prolonged absence, requested Mrs. Winfield to go in search of her.
"She is not in her room," exclaimed this woman, returning from her
search; "but on her dressing-table, I found this note."
Glenham seized it—saw that it bore his name as the direction, and,
tearing off the envelope, read these words: "With the blessing of
Heaven, I can protect myself. Farewell. Adelaide."
"Fools, idiots that we have been! The girl hasescaped!" exclaimed
Glenham, stamping his foot with rage. "She has foiled us after all!
After all our plotting—all our manœuvring, she has foiled us!"
"Gone! Has the child really gone?" said Mrs. Winfield, in tones of
"To be sure she has, old woman!"
"Old woman indeed! Don't old woman me, sir," said Mrs. Winfield
bristling with choler.
"Forgive me, I did not know what I was saying," returned Glenham.
"I will start instantly in pursuit. Perhaps I may track her yet. We are
friends again, Augusta?"
"I don't know that. But go! find out if you can, where the child
has gone to, and bring me word immediately. It would be ruinous were we
to lose her at this time."
Against the threats
Of malice, or of sorcery, or that power
Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm;—
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
Surpris'd by unjust force, but not enthrall'd.
The attempt to deceive Adelaide in regard to the character of her
present home had been successful. The confused and indecisive manner in
which Mrs. Winfield had met the gross accusations brought by Glenham
seemed a conclusive proof of her guilt. But the parties to the
deception little dreamed that the result would be so different fromwhat
they had calculated. They little imagined that Adelaide, destitute and
deserted, would reject the protection of Glenham, even when offered
under the pretence of friendship.
Appalled by what she had heard, her first thought was to escape
from the house immediately, and at any hazard. After that had been
accomplished it would be time enough for her to consider what was to
become of her. She ran up stairs into her room, hastily seized her
shawl and bonnet, and gliding gently down to the street-door, opened it
and issued forth into the open air. Hurrying round the neighboring
corner, she took a circuitous route from street to street, until she
found herself at the gate of St. John's Park. The gate was accidentally
open, and, unaware that the residents of the stately houses which
surrounded the square, were alone privileged to walk in this shady
retreat, she entered.
"Did that lady show you her ticket of admission, Patrick?" asked
one of the deputy gardeners of another.
"Isn't that face of hers ticket enough, you fool?" replied Patrick.
"Who would think of asking a lady, the likes of that one, for a
Adelaide passed on, and took a seat in the shade of a catalpa tree.
It was not till then that she began to revolve the question, where
shall I go? It suddenly occurred to her to see how much money she had
remaining in her purse. Alas! it was empty. Her last half-eagle had
been given to the wandering minstrels, who had roused her by their
music under her windows. But stay! She had their address—it was
inscribed on the blank leaf of one of her volumes—could she but recall
it to mind! Ay, memory now serves her a good turn. She remembers the
street—the number of the house. "I will go to them!" she said. "I
could not have been deceived in their looks. They mustbe honest, though
nothing but vagrant minstrels. Poor as they are, they are the only
friends I have in this crowded metropolis. To whom else can I look for
shelter and protection!"
She rose and moved towards the gate. As she reached it she looked
up to see a splendid olive-colored barouche roll by, with its liveried
driver and footman. It contained Fleetwood and Emily Gordon!
Adelaide paused as if a sudden heart-ache had shot through her
frame. But in an instant she was firm, and walked on with a proud and
elastic step. Was it an emotion of envy that brought the cloud to her
face? Ah, no! It was a momentary regret that her young heart's creed
had been so early trampled on—that her faith in human honor had
received so severe a shock. But then came the consciousness that she
herself had never wronged a human being by thought or deed, and she was
re-assured and sustained.
After an hour's search Adelaide reached the house, of which she was
in quest. It was a more respectable looking building than she had
expected to find; but she soon discovered that it was occupied by some
dozen families, and that it would be a matter of no little difficulty
to learn which apartment was occupied by her German friends. After
knocking at several doors and instituting a number of fruitless
inquiries, she found herself in the attic story of the house, with a
door on each side of the landing-place at the head of the stairs. She
rapped with her sun-shade at the nearest of these doors, and her
summons was speedily answered by a woman of somewhat elderly appearance
who wore spectacles, and, as she opened the door, stood bent over in a
position to keep a parcel of silk stuff, on which she had been sewing,
from rolling from her lap.
"Can you tell me where a German family, named Mulder, reside in
this building?" asked Adelaide.
"Pray walk in, Miss," said Mrs. Rugby, for that was the name of the
elderly woman in spectacles.
Adelaide readily complied with the invitation, for she felt
fatigued by her long walk. The room into which she entered, though an
attic apartment, was large, and received the light from four windows,
so that it had a bright and cheerful aspect. The front exposure looked
out upon the North River; and the Hoboken ridge, with its green woods,
was plainly to be seen on the opposite bank.
A girl apparently not more than ten years of age, and beautiful as
a sylph, was whirling about the floor with an airy, graceful movement
as Adelaide crossed the threshold. But on seeing a stranger, she
stopped, curtsied, and walked to the window, which was open.
The furniture of this apartment, though scanty, was neat and
comfortable. A large double bed stood in the remotest corner. A black
walnut bureau, a wash-stand, a piano or harp stool, a music rack, half
a dozen chairs, a round table containing a work-box, surrounded by
tassels, spangles and skeins of bright colored silk, were the objects
which the eye took in on a hasty survey.
"Pray take a seat, Miss," continued Mrs. Rugby, throwing down her
work, and placing a chair. "The poor foreigners, after whom you ask,
are out traversing the streets in the hope of picking up a few pennies.
They live in the opposite room; and will be back soon—as light as they
went, I will be bound! Poor things! If it hadn't been for the five
dollars you gave them, the landlord would have turned them neck and
heels out of the house before this."
"And how did you know that it was I who gave them the money?" asked
"O, they could speak English words enough to describe you to me
very well, Miss," said Mrs. Rugby; "and the moment I set eyes on you, I
knew that you must be the person they meant. It was very good of you,
Miss, to help them; for they are as deserving as they are poor."
"I suspect I am not the only one who has helped them, if I may draw
an inference from the harp-stool without the harp," said Adelaide.
"It is very true, Miss, that I lent them my harp, which I treasure,
because it belonged to my only daughter, who is dead and gone, and who
was the mother of that poor child you see there. But, dear me! the mere
lending a harp is little enough to do for one's next door neighbor. The
will must be taken for the deed in my case."
"You are the friend of these poor people, madam," said Adelaide,
abruptly—"you know their resources —the extent of their
accommodations. Think you, they could receive me for a brief time, and
let me lodge under their roof until I am able to earn for myself enough
to support me?"
"Receive you!" exclaimed Mrs. Rugby, almost petrified with
astonishment—"receive you as a lodger under their roof—why, Miss,
what is the meaning of such a proposition?"
Adelaide hesitated, for she was debating with herself the propriety
of revealing to one, who, until the last two minutes was an utter
stranger to her, the cause of her abandoning a home, where she was
surrounded by all the luxuries which wealth could procure. But she
thought of the incident of the harp; and believing that the woman who
would do such an act of kindness, would appreciate the motives of her
conduct, she communicated with a simple earnestness of manner, and in a
few brief sentences the whole story of her life up to the present
When she had concluded, she looked up, and saw that her hearer had
taken off her spectacles to wipe her eyes, which were literally
suffused with tears. The little girl, too, had gradually drawn near,
until, leaning on the back of her grandmother's chair, she listened
with a look of premature intelligence.
"And are you utterly destitute, my dear?" asked Mrs. Rugby.
"Alas! yes, madam! I have nothing with me but the apparel which you
see; and my purse is empty. Do you think it possible that I can induce
these poor German women to give me shelter for a while?"
"They have not the power to serve you, my dear, however strong they
may have the will."
"Then, what will become of me?"
"Become of you! Why, haven't I a nice large bed, and plenty to eat,
with the Croton water at my elbow, as handy as a pocket in a shirt?"
"That's my own, dear, dear grandmother!" exclaimed the little girl,
the tears springing to her eyes, while she threw her arms about the
"Child, child, you will choke me! Get away, Florinda!" exclaimed
Mrs. Rugby, trying to make it appear that it was the child's embrace,
and not her own tears which were choking her.
"Is it real?" exclaimed Adelaide—"and do you, madam, whose name
even I do not know—do you offer me—a stranger, an outcast—protection
"To be sure I do!" said Mrs. Rugby, taking Adelaide by the hand.
"And as for clothes, I have a whole trunk full of clothes that belonged
to my poor daughter, and which I have been keeping for this child when
she is big enough to wear them. They will just fit you, my dear, and
with a little altering they can be made as fashionable as you please."
"Ah! what goodness! Heaven grant that I may live to repay you! At
present I can give you only my tears—a melancholy recompense!"
"Nonsense, child! Wouldn't you do as much for me, if I was as badly
off, and you had the means? To be sure you would! Here I am, living all
alone with this little girl, and with nobody to support but ourselves
and Florinda's brother— Charley, we call him—who is at school in the
"Ah! I fear that I shall be a burthen. Can I not assist you in your
occupations? What may be the nature of them?"
"We belong to the theatre, my dear. To be sure I am nothing but
assistant costumer; but Florinda dances between the plays, and is
called on the bills, Fanny Elssler the younger—Fanny Elssler, in very
big capitals, and the younger, in the smallest possible letters. Ah, my
dear, the day of the legitimate drama is gone by. Poor Rugby! It was a
terrible blow to him, Miss, to see horses and clowns and wild beasts
draw audiences, while Hamlet was played to empty benches. Rugby used to
play the ghost of Hamlet's father, Miss. Ah! It was the death of him
when he had to give up the ghost, and descend to melodrama and
pantomime. He never held up his head after that. The degradation was
too much for him."
"And was your daughter an actress?"
"Yes, poor thing! But she never took kindly to the stage. She used
to play the walking genteel young ladies—Maria, in the School for
Scandal, and such parts. She married Romaine—poor Tom —you may have
heard of him, Miss—the best Mercutio on the boards, and a true
gentleman. Poor fellow! He and his wife were blown up in the Moselle,
while on their way to play at New Orleans. Their wardrobes had been put
on board anotherboat, and they were saved. This child and her brother
had been left behind under my charge. I shouldn't have cared to live a
day longer but for that."
"And may I ask if you find your present employment profitable?"
"Ah, my dear, theatricals are at such a very low ebb, that we
costumers can't make a third part of what we used to. And as for Fanny
Elssler the younger, she has been put on half pay the last month—so
you see business is not quite as flourishing with us as it was
formerly. But hark! I hear the Germans on the stairs with the harp!"
Mrs. Rugby rose and threw open the door. She was apparently about
sixty-five years old, this manufacturer of theatrical costumes—with a
round, good-humored contented face, a figure decidedly stout, and a
loud, hearty voice. She was dressed in a robe of dark calico, and her
gray hairs were concealed by a muslin cap of unsullied whiteness.
"Come in, and see a friend!" exclaimed Mrs. Rugby, looking out upon
the strolling minstrels, who were ascending the stairs.
As they entered, the women instantly recognised their benefactress,
and pressed her hand to their lips with a show of unaffected gratitude.
The boy, who had not seen her at the moment, set the harp down in its
place with a look of discouragement and discontent.
"Poor luck to-day, eh, Gustave?" said Mrs. Rugby.
The boy showed his empty hat, and smiled bitterly; and then, seeing
Adelaide, he approached, and, bowing respectfully, followed the example
of his sisters.
Lest unfounded hopes of farther assistance might be awakened in the
minds of her foreign protegés, Adelaide thought it best to apprise them
at once ofthe circumstances, under which she came there. This she did
in a few touching words; and when she made known the fact that she had
come to ask of them—of them, the poor, despised vagrant
minstrels—succor and protection—the sisters looked at each other with
swelling bosoms and moist eyes, while the boy clenched his fists, and
seemed to swell to the stature of a man.
The minstrels left the room, but in a few moments the boy returned,
and took away the harp; and, on looking out of the window some moments
afterwards, Adelaide saw them moving off with more than ordinary speed,
to try their luck once more in the noisy, music-killing streets.
Mrs. Rugby had another visitor, but in this case an unwelcome one,
before conversation was resumed between her and Adelaide. A bill for
the last quarter's schooling of Master Charles Romaine was brought in
by a stiff, severe-looking, monosyllabic individual, who presented the
account in silence and in silence awaited a reply.
"Call again on Saturday," said Mrs. Rugby, while a visible shade of
concern passed over her countenance.
"On Saturday," said the austere gentleman.
"This is the first time I have ever put off these schooling bills,"
said Mrs. Rugby, with a transient look of dismay. And then resuming her
mood of habitual cheerfulness, she took up her work and began to chat
as if nothing had happened.
But Adelaide was too much immersed in thought to talk, and Mrs.
Rugby was delighted to find that she had so patient a listener.
"I must not be idle with such examples before me, and under the
spur of such necessities," thought Adelaide. "But what can I do?"
Beware! for my revenge
Is as the seal'd commission of a king,
That kills, and none dare name the murderer.
Notwithstanding the undisguised impatience of Mr. Gordon at the
repeated delays of the consummation by marriage of the match between
his daughter and Fleetwood, this event, to which he looked forward so
anxiously, was, upon various pretences, deferred till late in the
autumn. But at length a day, which had been definitely fixed for the
ceremony some time before, had arrived; and nothing had occurred to
induce either party to ask for a reprieve. In order to render it the
more awkward for them to do so, Mr. Gordon had taken good care to send
out invitations to a large circle of friends.
The ceremony was to take place at twelve o'clock. It wanted some
forty minutes of that hour. Fleetwood, who always dressed with
consummate taste, had not thought it worth while to make any other
change in his attire than to put on a plain white vest in the place of
that which he usually wore. In a mood half reckless and half
indifferent he entered the parlor and flung himself at full length upon
Some young men, friends of the family, began to drop in.
"Shall I introduce these people to you?" asked Rodney, the master
of the ceremonies.
"Wait a while, my dear fellow," said Fleetwood; "it will be time
enough by and by. Let me rest in quiet."
Rodney walked away; and Fleetwood, coveringhis eyes with his hand,
seemed to solicit repose. In a few minutes, two young men, engaged in
conversation, passed him and took seats not far distant. One of these
interlocutors was Glenham; the other a Mr. Bettencourt.
"By the way, Glenham, have you heard of the new debutante?" asked
"I haven't been to the theatre since the spring," replied Glenham,
who was evidently bored by the assiduities of his companion.
"Then let me tell you that you have missed a great deal," said
Bettencourt. "The prettiest girl I have seen this many a day appeared
for the first time in opera the other night. Miserably slim
house—nobody there—but she astonished the judicious few—that's a
"Very likely. By the way, who makes your boots?"
"Kimball and Rogers. But let me tell you of the debutante. She
played Amina in La Somnambula Anglicised—and devilish well she did
it— that's a fact! Such a scene as she made of that at the end of the
second act, where she sings 'I'm not guilty!' By George! the chorus and
all the other actors on the stage seemed so stupified with wonder, that
they forgot their cues. An old fellow, who sat in the box with me, and
who has heard all the best singing of the last half century, applauded
like a mad person, and, as the curtain fell, swore that Malibran had
never equalled that scene."
"Very likely. Why the deuce don't the women come?"
"By the way, do you know this girl looks like Emily Gordon? A
confounded sight prettier though, between ourselves! You must go to
hear her, Glenham, if she plays again."
"Thank you—I care very little for music."
"She hasn't appeared on the boards since thearticle in the last
week's Scorpion. Do you read the Scorpion? Capital paper! Full of fun!
Has hits at every body—touches people on the raw in fine style—that's
a fact. Well; if the Scorpion's story is true, this girl is under the
protection of the fellow, who played the lover, Elvino, in the opera—
what the deuce is his name? I forget. No matter! You would have said
the same thing yourself, if you heard the way in which she sang 'Yes, I
am thine, love!' It was perfect nature, and so earnest, that I am sure
there could have been no sham about it. She meant every word she said.
It wasn't acting—that's a fact!"
"Well, Bettencourt, since you have nothing better to do, why don't
you cut out this Mr. Elvino, and carry off this Miss—what did you say
her name was?"
"She was announced on the bills simply as a young American lady;
but the Scorpion says, her name is Adelaide Winfield, and that she is
the daughter of—. Why, what the deuce is the matter with you, my dear
Glenham started up, and crossed the room rapidly as if to seek a
friend in the adjoining apartment; but in reality he was trying to hide
Fleetwood raised himself from his recumbent posture, for he could
not well avoid over-hearing Bettencourt's remarks, inasmuch as that
gentleman always spoke in a remarkably loud and ambitious tone. But at
that juncture, Mr. Gordon entered with a party of ladies, and
Fleetwood, with a heavy heart, rose to his feet and bowed.
"Well, Fleetwood, my boy, enjoy your single blessedness while you
may," said Mr. Gordon. "You have but ten minutes longer to lead the
life of a bachelor. Had you not better join Emily in the room
"I presume she will send for me when my presenceshall be
acceptable," replied Fleetwood, walking away and seating himself in one
of the luxurious arm-chairs in the saloon.
Mr. Bettencourt followed, and with the amiable intention of
diverting him, drew a paper from his pocket, and said: "Have you seen
last week's Scorpion, sir? Capital paper! The only paper in the city
worth taking—that's a fact!"
"It will be time enough for the Scorpion, sir, after I am married,"
replied Fleetwood, removing to another seat.
"Very good—very good indeed!" exclaimed Bettencourt, after a
pause, during which he seemed endeavoring to discover the drift of the
remark. "Devilish odd fellow, that Fleetwood! One would imagine he
thought it a confounded bore to get married."
In the mean while Mr. Gordon could not disguise his nervous,
fretful and impatient mood, so different from that which was habitual
with him. He looked at his watch repeatedly—wondered why the clergyman
didn't come—put his head out of the window, and anxiously peered up
and down the street—and then paced the room, as if dreading he knew
not what. There was a violent ring at the door-bell. He shuddered as if
it was some fearful summons; but was inexpressibly relieved when he saw
the Rev. Mr. Trope enter in all the amplitude of his clerical attire.
Mr. Gordon rushed forward and took him by the hand—then looked once
more at his watch—saw that it was twelve o'clock—and hurried up
stairs to protest against the least delay on the part of the bride and
the bridesmaids. The next moment a servant entered, and whispered in
Fleetwood's ear, that Miss Emily was expecting him.
"So soon? Well! I come," said he, rising and moving with an air,
significant of anything but a joyful alacrity, towards the door.
An assemblage of some thirty ladies and about that number of
gentlemen had now gathered in the large parlor adjoining the
conservatory. They were distributed in numerous groups about the room,
and the buzz of commingled voices was heard on all sides.
At length Mr. Gordon was seen to enter rubbing his hands with a
sort of fidgetty satisfaction, and, approaching the clergyman, to
whisper in his ear. The Rev. Mr. Trope immediately took his place near
the lofty mirror between the two windows that led into the
conservatory. Under the skilful marshalling of Mr. Rodney, the company
then formed themselves in a semi-circle fronting the mirror, leaving an
opening in the middle of the arc for the admission of the bridal party.
They entered— Fleetwood and Miss Gordon first, arm in arm, followed by
three groomsmen with as many bridesmaids, all of whom had been, with
admirable fore-sight, provided for the occasion by the father of the
Who was ever so churlish as to refuse to admit that a bride looked
"But how very pale she is!" said Miss Titter, in reply to a remark
made by Mr. Bettencourt. "Doesn't that wreath of orange blossoms become
"Brides always look pale, and wreaths always become them," said Mr.
Bettencourt. "By the way, Miss Titter, do you ever read the Scorpion?
Capital paper that! Funny dogs, the editors must be! There's a
first-rate hit at Parson Trope in the last number—wonder if he has
seen it?—have a great mind to ask him—how it will make him fume!"
"Well, for a bridegroom, I never saw a man show so much nonchalance
as Fleetwood," said Miss Titter, who had been looking through
hereye-glass without attending to a word that her companion had
uttered. "Look, Mr. Bettencourt! What is all that?" she continued, as
she observed a movement, which seemed to excite considerable curiosity
among the feminine spectators.
It was this. The parties to the ceremony were about taking their
places, and the clergyman had drawn forth his book to read the marriage
service, when a colored servant, one of those employed by the caterer,
who had been engaged to furnish the dejeuner a la fourchette, glided
from the conservatory, making his way between two of the bridesmaids,
and placed a note in the hands of Fleetwood, saying, at the same time,
in a whisper— "read it before the ceremony." The movement was so rapid
and so stealthy, that it was finished before Mr. Gordon could well
distinguish its nature.
But when the recognition came, the expression of his face was
terrible. He darted forward, and snatched at the note, but failed in
the attempt to get it into his possession.
Fleetwood looked up amazed, and Gordon, with a convulsive laugh,
said: "Wait awhile, my dear boy. This is no time to read notes. It is
disrespectful to the company."
"Then the company must grant me their indulgence, sir," said
Fleetwood; and leaving his position by the bride, he moved towards the
nearest embrasure, and read the following words, written in large and
legible letters, though apparently in furious haste: "Come to your own
room, at once— before the ceremony—unless you covet a life-time of
the keenest remorse that ever wrung a human soul. It is of Adelaide I
would speak. Dare you hear the truth? Delay not a moment!"
Staggered by this sudden communication, Fleetwood pressed his hand
to his forehead as if to collecthis thoughts; and then, crumpling the
note in his hand, he passed rapidly out of the room without saying a
word. The perspiration stood in big drops upon Mr. Gordon's forehead,
while he watched his movements. He followed close upon his heels, and,
as the bridegroom started to ascend the stairs, caught him by the arm.
"What is it, Fleetwood? What is it, my dear boy?" he said, with an
unsuccessful effort to appear unconcerned.
"It matters not—I will use such dispatch as I may," replied
Fleetwood, disengaging himself and darting up the stairs.
"Beware, sir!" exclaimed Gordon, hardly knowing in his frenzy what
he said. "Beware, young man! I have been trifled with long enough. If
this marriage is deferred again—"
Fleetwood checked himself, and folding his arms, descended, step by
step, till he confronted Gordon.
"Well sir, and what then?" he demanded with a freezing hauteur.
"Beware, sir! I only say, beware!"
"A parrot can say as much, sir. I see nothing so wonderful in that.
Look you, Mr. Gordon! If all hell were to cry beware, it could not
withhold me, when honor cried go on!"
And without more words, Fleetwood ascended the stairs to his own
You have displac'd the mirth, broke the good meeting, With most
The guilty see "in every bush an officer;" and Mr. Gordon had a
vague fear that the note, placed in Fleetwood's hand, had reference to
the disclosure which he had been so anxiously guarding against for some
weeks past. But still he might be mistaken in his surmises; and so
returning to the parlor, he asked the clergyman's pardon for the
interruption—said that the bridegroom would return in a moment—and
mingled among his guests, trying in a sort of desperation to escape
from his fears. The bride and her companions took seats; and an attempt
was made to get up a little conversation to relieve the awkwardness of
the scene. The bridesmaids looked at one another, as much as to say,
"Did you ever know such a dismal wedding?"—and the groomsmen pulled
off their kid gloves, indulged in sidelong glances at the mirror, and
then with a grave, self-satisfied air bent over to whisper to the
ladies. Mr. Bettencourt, after some modest misgivings, approached the
Rev. Mr. Trope, with the view of delicately broaching the subject of
last week's Scorpion. Glenham stood alone and apart in a corner of the
room, quivering with agitation, and anxiously regarding the countenance
of the host.
At length the door was thrown open by a servant as if for the
entrance of an important person in the little drama. All eyes were
immediately turned towards the spot; and the bridesmaids rose,
expecting to see the groom. But it was not he,who entered. It was Count
La Salle. He was pale, and the perpendicular furrows between his eyes
were deepened so as to give a frowning expression to his face; but he
advanced with an air of serene good-breeding into the room, and bowing,
while he held his hat in his hand, said: "Ladies and gentlemen! I am
requested by Mr. Fleetwood to inform you, that unhappy circumstances,
throwing no blame, however, upon the lady, have been brought to light,
which must prevent his marriage with Miss Gordon."
"It is a lie—a trick!" shouted the wretched father, finding that
the steps he thought he had ascended to the summit were slipping from
"Oh, sir, here you are!" said the Count, sarcastically, while he
approached Mr. Gordon. "If I mistake not, I have some little favors to
thank you for. I was knocked down by bullies a month or two since while
loitering in the neighborhood of your house to meet Mr. Fleetwood, your
servants having denied me admission. I was confined to my bed for weeks
in consequence of the injuries I then received. But this is not all. I
addressed certain letters to Mr. Fleetwood. Perhaps you can tell who
opened, read and destroyed them, without delivering them to the owner.
I was on Tuesday lured on board one of the Liverpool packets at the
Hook, in the expectation of meeting a friend—the steamboat which
brought me, made off while I was in the cabin of the ship, and I found
myself on the way to England. Fortunately a pilot-boat came along, and
I was released. Perhaps, you can explain this little accident. For
these and other agreeable favors, account me your debtor."
"This is an impostor, ladies and gentlemen!" exclaimed Gordon,
absolutely foaming with rage. "I can prove that he made an attempt not
longsince to pass himself off as a different person from what he now
pretends to be. He is an impostor; and I call upon you, gentlemen, to
assist me in arresting him. Where is Glenham? He can testify to the
truth of what I assert. Glenham, come forward!"
Ever since the Count's entrance into the room, Mr. Glenham had been
moving stealthily towards the door, with the view of making a
precipitate exit unobserved. Much to his consternation, however, La
Salle had suddenly caught sight of him, and thenceforth divided his
glances between him and his senior accomplice.
"Ay, I would like to hear what Mr. Glenham has to say," exclaimed
the Count in reply to the frantic menaces of the master of the house.
"Mr. Gordon must be under a mistake," said Glenham, who dreaded the
Count far more than he did any one else in the room. "I can testify to
nothing prejudicial to this gentleman. There must be some mistake."
"Why, thou double traitor!" exclaimed La Salle, pointing at him
scornfully with his fore-finger protruded. "You know that there is no
mistake—that what he says is true."
"You hear, ladies and gentlemen—he himself confesses!" exclaimed
Mr. Gordon, stunned by Glenham's defection, and hardly knowing what he
"But he has not confessed all, sir? There is a sequel, which
concerns yourself and this—shall I call him gentleman?—no—craven!"
La Salle paused, and drawing himself up with dignity, looked about,
scanning the faces of the company, till his eyes fell on Emily. She was
sitting in a high-backed chair, supported on either side by her
bridesmaids, her face of a deadly paleness, and her bosom heaving
violently with the anguish, to which she was evidently a prey. This
spectacle seemed to produce a sudden change in his feelings and
intentions. An expression of tenderness played about his mouth. He
turned to Gordon, and said: "These are matters, which had better be
discussed in private. I will select a fitter opportunity for what I
have to say. I need not inform you of my address. You have had occasion
to acquaint yourself with it already."
And then, turning to the company, he added: "Ladies and gentlemen,
it is due to you that I should express my regret—and I do so most
sincerely—that I have been obliged to disturb this festive meeting by
making disclosures to Mr. Fleetwood of a nature the most painful. These
disclosures, I repeat it, do not in any manner reflect upon Miss
Gordon. What they are, you perhaps may never know—but I beg you to
take my assurance, that they are of such a character, that neither
could I in honor refrain from imparting them, nor Mr. Fleetwood from
acting as he has acted on receiving them. With this explanation I
respectfully take my leave."
There was a long pause as La Salle quitted the room, unbroken save
by the difficult panting of Emily, who was struggling against a
fainting fit. Suddenly Mr. Gordon who had been looking at Glenham till
that young gentleman seemed to think it would be a pleasant relief to
be rolling down hill in a cask of spikes like Regulus, started, and
turning to his guests, exclaimed:
"Come, since we are not going to have a wedding, let us have a
feast at any rate. Let us adjourn to the dining-room. Mr. Glenham, hand
in one of the ladies. Mr. Bettencourt, I am sure a little champagne can
do you no harm. Suppose you persuade Miss Titter to accompany you. Mr.
Rodney, let me see you lead the way with my fair cousin onyour left;
and Mr. Trope, you and I will bring up the rear. Emily, my dear, I am
glad to see you are recovering. We will give you five minutes longer to
get over this little agitation, which, under the circumstances, is
Emily made a gesture of acquiescence, and the company left the
"I say—what would the editors of the Scorpion give to get an
inkling of this business?" whispered Mr. Bettencourt in the ear of his
fair companion, as they passed out with the rest of the bridal party.
Emily remained alone, lost in conjecture as to the nature of those
dreaded disclosures, to which La Salle had alluded so mysteriously, and
which had sent Fleetwood forth at such a moment so abruptly, removing
forever the prospect of their union.
The brave, the gentle and the beautiful, The child of grace and
Mr. Dryman to Mr. Fleetwood.
My Dear Sir:—At the request of the gentleman, who will hand you
this letter, and in conformity with my own duties as the protector of
the interests of my client, I have carefully investigated circumstances
in the history of a young lady known to you under the name of Adelaide
Winfield. I have ascertained, and can satisfactorily establish, that
she is the legitimate daughter of the late Edward Challoner, and that
in her mother's right, who was a daughter of the late John Gordon,
Esq., she is heiress to a considerable property. The incidents, which
led to the concealment of her real name and history, are simply these:
her father died suddenly, leaving his wife with her unborn child in
humble lodgings, the very locality of which was unknown save to two or
three persons. She had been discarded by her parents in consequence of
her marriage, and knew of no one to whom to apply for relief. An old
servant named Jenny was her only attendant. In the midst of her
distress, and while in the very pangs of child-birth, which had been
hastened by the sudden communication of the news of her husband's
death, a woman named Winfield called upon her, and charitably
ministered to her wants. The mother hardly lived to thank her for her
kindness, however, but died in giving birth to a female child. The
witnesses to the identity of this child with the young lady known to
you as Adelaide Winfield,are Mrs. Winfield, the woman Jenny, and Dr.
Brisk, who had accidentally been called in to the accouchement, as the
nearest physician. In addition to these there are collateral proofs,
which place the fact of the identity beyond a cavil.
I wish, for the honor of human nature, that I might stop here in my
narrative, and not be compelled to unravel the conspiracies which have
been formed against the freedom and welfare of this young girl. It
appears that Mrs. Winfield, having received intelligence of the death
of a daughter of her own, suddenly formed the determination to claim
and adopt the infant thus suddenly left an orphan. By heavy bribes she
induced the woman Jenny and the aforementioned Dr. Brisk to conceal the
real name and history of the late Mrs. Challoner. At the coroner's
inquest a different name was mentioned; and, in consequence, the family
of the deceased were kept in ignorance of her fate; and her father, in
his dying moments, overcome with remorse, left a clause in his will by
which a third of his immense property was to be retained for eighteen
years in the hands of trustees for the benefit of his missing daughter,
or her child. If, at the end of that time, no intelligence of either
had been gathered, then the property was to revert to the other heirs.
It now wants but a day of the expiration of the trusteeship.
Not many years after the death of his father, the present Mr.
Gordon was satisfied of the validity of the claims of the
aforementioned Adelaide, as inheritress of the property, which was
rapidly accumulating under the frugal management of prudent trustees.
But instead of manfully promulgating those claims, he entered into a
league with Mrs. Winfield to keep the girl Adelaide in ignorance of her
true prospects and position, with the view of ultimately enjoying her
wealth. In furtherance of this object,various plots and counterplots
have been entered into by both parties, each distrusting the other in
turn, and yet being all the while so held by the other, as to be afraid
of coming to an open rupture.
On hearing of the occurrences at Soundside, in which you were an
actor, Mrs. Winfield took the alarm and went immediately to remove
Adelaide, whom she claimed as a daughter, to her own house in the city.
In the village she encountered an acquaintance in the person of Mr.
Glenham. Adelaide, true to her promises to yourself, refused to
accompany her mother (as she supposed her to be) to the city. Fraud was
then resorted to, and it was successful. A letter bearing your
signature was forged, by which Adelaide was made to believe that it was
your pleasure she should place herself under the protection of Mrs.
Winfield. They came to the city; and here a new and important agent in
the plot appeared in the person of Mr. Gordon. This man seems to have
set his heart on two objects. One was to prevent any knowledge of the
existence of his niece coming to the ears of the trustees of her
property; and the other was to marry you to his daughter. To accomplish
these objects no means seem to have been regarded by him as too base.
You must remember the night of the thunderstorm, when Count La
Salle, on entering the parlor at Mr. Gordon's found Emily in your arms,
and, in a paroxysm of jealousy, took leave of you both. In an evil
moment he was tempted to wound you in the same way that he believed you
had wantonly wounded him. He was told that you were deeply enamored of
Adelaide, at the same time that you spurned the idea of marrying her.
The scheme, of which you were the victim, was proposed to him on the
ground that it would save the young girl from your snares as well as
punish youjustly for the wrong you had done him. He consented to pass
himself off, before you, as the fortunate lover of Adelaide, and before
herself as her brother. The success of the imposition was complete. Had
you paused but an instant before jumping to a conclusion, and heard
Adelaide's exclamation of brother Ernest! as she rushed to his embrace,
you might have been undeceived; but the shock overwhelmed you, and the
plot was managed by the contrivers with diabolical skill.
You will already have seen how important the agency of Mr. Glenham
has been throughout in this conspiracy against the peace and welfare of
a young, innocent and noble-minded girl. It was he, who lured her from
Soundside by his vile forgery— it was he who suggested the plot by
which you were to be made to believe she had been unfaithful—it was
he, who baffled, by his falsehoods within falsehoods and his cowardly
intrigues, the repeated attempts of Count La Salle to enlighten you as
to the imposture that had been practised, or to communicate to Adelaide
all that he knew and all that he suspected.
But it seems that traitors cannot be true even to one another.
While Mr. Gordon was counting upon the zealous co-operation of his
accomplices, Glenham and Mrs. Winfield, these two were contriving how
they could best subserve their own interests apart from his. From
prudential considerations Gordon had always deferred pledging himself
in any manner by written agreements to compensate Mrs. Winfield in the
event of the reversion of Adelaide's property to himself. But in
Glenham she found a person not quite so wary and careful. He did not
scruple to pledge himself both by written and spoken oaths to give her
one half the property, which would come under his control on his union
with Adelaide. These calculations were utterlybaffled by Adelaide, who
not only refused to listen to his proposals, but fled from the
protection which he proffered, as well in the name of friendship as of
I need not add more except that Mrs. Winfield has made a full
confession of her entire connexion with this painful and extraordinary
affair; and that she now seems truly penitent. The woman Jenny and Dr.
Brisk have also both made confessions, which confirm the story I have
related, in many of its important particulars. Count La Salle will
himself communicate what must satisfy you, were all other testimony
wanting, that you have been the victim of the most inhuman deception,
and that Adelaide Challoner is innocent and pure. It is proper that I
should mention that I have communicated to the trustees of her property
the fact of her existence, and that measures have been already taken to
substantiate her claims. I hardly think they will be disputed, inasmuch
as it can be proved that the present Mr. Gordon has admitted them
Hoping, my dear sir, that the young lady may recover speedily from
her present serious indisposition, and that all happiness may be in
store for her and you, I am,
Yours, faithfully, Littleton Dryman.
But there was round thee such a dawn
Of light ne'er seen before,
As Fancy never could have drawn,
And never can restore.
The sunshine of a clear autumnal afternoon was streaming in at the
western windows of the apartment where we left Adelaide in conversation
with Mrs. Rugby. There had been little apparent change in the
arrangements of this room, save that a bountiful supply of fresh
flowers in vases adorned the tables and the mantel-piece. A cage
containing a mocking-bird hung over the window-sill, and, though the
door was open, the little prisoner seemed to prefer remaining where he
was. His loud, varying notes, caught from the melodies of a southern
forest—the sunshine turning to amber the white curtains that shook in
the soft, elastic breeze—the sight and odor of flowers—and the green
branches in the fire-place, all gave an aspect and a tone of
cheerfulness to the place, which made one forget he was in the midst of
a dusty, populous metropolis, where there were almost as many breaking
hearts and aching heads as green leaves.
And yet, on the unopened coverlid of the bed, Adelaide lay an
invalid, lost at the moment in a tranquil sleep. She wore a white
morning robe, and was supported, in a half-sitting, half-supine
posture, by pillows. By her side stood Florinda, with a fan to keep off
the flies. Words cannot paint the look of adoring affection and
tenderness with which this child regarded the sleeper. There was but
one person more in the room—the grandmother; who sat quietly sewing by
the window, occasionally turning to look at the face of the invalid,
and then, with a suppressed sigh, resuming her work.
Suddenly Adelaide opened her eyes, and smiled on seeing Florinda.
Then lowering her glance, as if in the act of concentrating her
thoughts, she asked:
"Is it not almost time that he should be here?"
"Not yet, my dear—you have hardly slept half an hour," said Mrs.
Rugby, pausing a moment, and then plying her needle with renewed
"What, Florinda! Tears again! Naughty one!" exclaimed Adelaide,
stooping forward, and wiping from the child's face the fluid signs of
grief. "Why do you weep?"
"Sweet lady, dear lady, do not ask me."
"But I insist on knowing why you weep. Tell me, my own little
Florinda, tell me!"
"It is because I so dread the thought of your leaving us."
"Is that all, little Bayadere? Why, you ought, then, to be all the
more delighted while I stay. Come, not another tear! I shall get in a
passion by and by."
And with a playful imperativeness of manner, Adelaide kissed away
her tears till the child laughed under her influence.
Suddenly Adelaide checked herself, put her fore-finger to her lips,
as if to enjoin silence, and changed the position of her small and
delicately-slippered feet, till they almost touched the floor. Then
starting from the bed, she exclaimed:
"It is he! I know his footstep!" She glided swiftly towards the
door, opened it, and was clasped in Fleetwood's embrace.
They entered the room, with arms locked about each other as they
walked, and eyes gazing intentlyin each other's face. Each saw the
change—the sad, yet endearing change—in the other, and tears came
gratefully to the relief of each.
"Miserable dupe that I have been!" groaned Fleetwood, kissing the
pallid forehead, which seemed to invite his lips. "How wretchedly have
I been deluded! Can you—can you forgive me— angel of goodness and of
"All is understood," replied Adelaide. "All that was unpleasant,
forgotten—all that was sweet, remembered."
"Oh, maledictions on the wretches, who—"
The grief that overpowered Fleetwood choked his utterance. He sank
into a chair—covered his face with his hands—and gave way to a burst
of grief, which shook his frame as if with a convulsion. He wept like a
Adelaide rested herself lightly on his knee, gently struggled to
remove his hands, then soothingly thrust her fingers through the locks
that fell over his temples, and besought him to be calm.
"Think not of those who have wronged us," she said; "they deserve
our pity, and of course our forgiveness. Do you remember the reply of
the poet to his critic?
" 'I hate thy want of truth and love,—
How can I then hate thee?'
We should all regard our enemies in this spirit. In that they are
our enemies, or the enemies of any human being, they deserve our
commiseration, not our vengeance."
"Dear Adelaide, you are weak—you are pale— I fear that you have
suffered—that you still suffer —much. But you will recover—O, say
that you will recover—give me that blessed assurance—give me at least
"There is nothing in death that awes me but thethought of leaving
you, dear—husband," said Adelaide, with a slight pause in her voice
before she uttered the last word. Fleetwood lifted her hand to his
lips, and pressed it silently. "Nay, I am wrong," resumed Adelaide,
turning to Florinda and her grandmother; "here are two who will miss
me, and to part with whom will cause a pang. But, dear friends, be
cheerful! It is thus that I would welcome death—with flowers, and
sunshine, and music—with green leaves and floral odors— with happy
voices and with smiles. They do wrong, who dress his altar with weeds
of wo—and who salute him, on his approach, with lamentations; for does
he not conduct us to a nobler and a happier life? Therefore may the
dead be rather called the living than we who linger on this shore of
time, fettered by material obstructions—by disease and pain. O, in our
happiest estate, death should ever be welcome!"
"You will rive my heart with these words," said Fleetwood
despairingly. "O, live, live, at least long enough for me to make
amends for my dreadful injustice!"
"You shall not accuse yourself," said Adelaide. "As you loved me,
how could you have acted differently? Ah, my husband, it was a sweet
dream, though passing brief! Do you remember that rocky ledge on the
sea-shore, where we first met, while the big waves rolled up their
smooth, flashing undulations to my horse's feet? Should you ever
revisit the place, you will love it for my sake."
"Ah, why will you thus try to shut out all hope from my heart?"
"Could any hope be so sweet as that of our reunion hereafter?"
asked Adelaide. "With me the conviction that we shall meet again—meet
happily —is interwoven with my spiritual being. Do you wonder then,
that I am content? But I have somecommissions for you, dear husband;
and you must expect a rebuke from me if you do not fulfil them. This
child, Florinda, whom you see"—and here Adelaide sank her voice to a
whisper—"will soon be left an orphan. It was my intention to provide
for her liberally—to protect her as if she were my own sister. Alas! I
know what it is to be an orphan! I leave her, my husband, to your care.
She has a brother. You will look after him also."
"O, indulge no more in these melancholy anticipations," sighed
Fleetwood. "You shall live, Adelaide, to scatter blessings with your
"Approach, Florinda," said Adelaide, feebly casting her eyes over
her shoulders, as she lay in Fleetwood's arms.
The child drew near, and Adelaide, taking her little hand, placed
it in that of Fleetwood, and said: "For my sake, you must love each
Fleetwood returned the pressure of the child's hand in silent
"Do you remember Cossack—my old dog, Cossack?" asked Adelaide
abruptly, as if to divert the sadness of both. "Well, you must give him
to Charley Romaine—that's Florinda's brother—to take care of."
"Ah, it will be time enough years hence for bequests like these,"
"Bear with me if I am over-provident," replied Adelaide. "There is
poor La Salle—I have been much concerned on his account. Pray assure
him of my entire forgiveness, and tell him you heard me say that I
wished he were indeed my brother— and give him, in token of my good
will, a gold mounted riding-whip, inscribed with my name, which you
will find in one of my trunks—Mr. Dryman will tell you where."
"You are exhausted—you need repose!" saidFleetwood, pressing her
as if she were an infant in his arms.
"The Gordons, Fleetwood—I would say something of them," continued
Adelaide. "Do what is best to rescue the father from those pecuniary
difficulties that have driven him to deeds, which, in his better
moments, he must bitterly deplore. And as for Emily—cousin Emily, I
must call her now— Mr. Dryman will tell you how I have remembered her.
What others are there, of whom we should be thoughtful? I have already,
through Mr. Dryman, sent such messages to Mrs. Winfield as I think must
give her consolation; and I have provided a modest competence for some
of my protegés, a German family among the rest. All that I ask of you
in regard to Glenham is, that should you ever have an opportunity of
doing him a benefit, you will not neglect it. I do not require a
promise. I but make the request."
"I pray you now take a little repose, Adelaide," said Fleetwood,
with a trembling voice. "You have fatigued yourself with talking."
"In one moment you shall be obeyed, my husband," said Adelaide; and
then turning to the child, who sat weeping at her feet, she feebly
murmured: "Come here, little Fanny Elssler the Younger: I have
something to say to you in private. Bring your ear nearer my lips. It
is bad manners to whisper in company, but I must be indulged this
And for nearly five minutes, Adelaide addressed the child in a
whisper audible to her alone. Florinda listened with an air of rapt
attention, glancing occasionally at Fleetwood, and then looking down as
if in thought. Adelaide, in concluding, kissed her affectionately, and
calling Mrs. Rugby, said: "You, who have been all to me that a mother
couldbe, and who, in your humble and contemned sphere, have shown a
heart so rich in all the good affections—take a chair near me now, and
we will have music. Why is our mocking-bird so quiet all at once? Go,
Florinda, and tell Minnie to come with the harp, and let her bring her
sister and the dear children. I love to see their bright, contented
faces. And now, my husband, you shall not have to urge me longer to
take repose. One kiss more! Raise the curtain, Mrs. Rugby! While we are
sitting before the window, we may as well enjoy the beautiful sunset.
There! Is it not lovely beyond a painter's conception, dear Fleetwood?
And the river—how the fresh breeze plays with its crimsoned waters, as
it sweeps on—on in its perpetual flow to the great ocean! I always
loved to look on flowing water—I know not why. But here come Minnie
and the rest with the harp. Now, my husband, fix me comfortably in your
lap, and let your arms clasp me about as if I were a child; for truly I
feel like one, lying thus, my head against your breast. Another kiss!
There! Good evening, Minnie! Good evening, Estelle! And good evening,
children all! Now, Minnie, the old tunes—you know what I mean."
The children stood hand in hand, quiet and grave spectators of the
scene; and Minnie played the tunes which she knew Adelaide loved to
hear as associated with the memories of her early days. At the close of
the music, Adelaide raised her head, and said, in German: "And now,
Minnie, play the tune I taught you." And then, after claiming another
kiss from Fleetwood, she again closed her eyes and nestled her head
against his breast.
Fleetwood started. That tune—where had he heard it before? Yes, it
was the same he had set to the little song in honor of Adelaide. which
he had sung on the night of the serenade. Withpleased surprise he
followed the air to its close. As it ended, the deepest silence
prevailed in the room. Suddenly the mocking-bird poured forth a rich,
exulting melody, so shrill and loud that all were startled and looked
up to the cage; and then, as if he had but wished to call attention to
the fact of his emancipation, the winged chorister flew out of the
window, and up, up into the sky, till he was lost from view.
Turning to the sweet burthen he held in his arms, Fleetwood saw a
smile of the serenest beauty upon the lips of Adelaide Challoner. He
bowed his head to feel her breath against his cheeks. Alas, no breath
came! Her gentle spirit had fled.
Can I then love the air she loved?
Can I then hear the melting strain
Which brings her to my soul again,
Calm and unmoved?
And thou to blame my tears forbear;
For while I list, sweet maid! to thee,
Remembrance whispers, "such was she!"
And she is—where?
Mrs. Davenant in Paris to a friend in New York.
Dear Madeline:—We have returned north, you see, with the return of
warm weather, and here we are once more in the great metropolis of
fashion and philosophy, of gayety and science, of revolutions and of
arts. It is still the same delightful Paris—with much to admire and
reprove, to fascinate and offend—an epitome of the world and an emblem
of life itself, where you can partake of the influences of all that is
most base and all that is most elevating in the institutions of man.
But I will come to that subject, about which I know you will feel
most concern, my health. Rest content then, dear Madeline, for know
that it has much improved since I wrote you from Leghorn. I was well
enough last Wednesday to accompany Mr. Davenant and Florinda to the
annual festivities at Longchamps. The weather was gratefully mild—so
much so that we rode in an open carriage all the way. Florinda was as
usual dreadfully stared at; and young men on horsebackwere continually
riding by our carriage, obviously to get a sight at her.
You ask me, by the way, if the stories which Mrs. W. brought you
from Italy in relation to my young charge are not exaggerated. I know
not what those stories were, but can imagine that they may have seemed
to you very extravagant and yet have been true. It is now some five
years since Florinda was placed under my protection by my son-in-law's
unfortunate friend, Fleetwood. I was, at the time, about visiting
Europe. Fleetwood wished to cross the Atlantic in the same ship; and I
cheerfully consented to take his little protégée under my care. She had
recently lost her only remaining female relative. She seemed about ten
years old. I have understood that she was of humble parentage—both her
father and mother having been public performers at the theatre. But
there are traces of gentle blood in her, more conclusive than family
pedigrees. Her ancles, feet and hands are exquisitely symmetrical; her
figure is perfect, and her temper angelic.
Florinda has a handsome annuity secured to her by the will of
Fleetwood's short-lived lady-love, whose history you know. The bulk of
Miss Challoner's immense property was, you may remember, left to
Fleetwood himself; but, after adding to some of the legacies, which
Miss Challoner had made, he transferred it to the Gordon family; and, I
am told, it came very opportunely to lift them to affluence from
You ask me for some description of Florinda. I will not attempt it,
for I am sure I should fail. I will only say, she is strangely
beautiful. Until her fourteenth year, she was pretty constantly in the
society of Fleetwood, who guided her in her studies,and imbued her with
many of his own tastes and views. I have noticed that the pursuits in
which she excels are precisely those to which he was most attached. She
is the most consummate artiste in all the minor as well as the higher
embellishments of life. She exhibits an original and a truly admirable
taste in dress, which is allowed to be so superior, that by the tacit
consent of the Parisians, young as she is and unmarried, she now fixes
the standard for the season. She has made the fortunes of several poor
dress-makers, whom she has chosen to employ; and yet her modes have
this peculiarity, which renders them unpopular save with the few
beautiful women, who here sway the fashions: they are so severely
simple that they are adapted only to the most elegant persons. But
Florinda pleases herself; and seems indifferent to the sceptre, which
has been confided to her. I have heard of threats of disembarrassment
among the fashionable modistes, who find themselves all at once shorn
of their importance. Do you know what the term means? You are said to
disembarrass yourself when you kill off by poison an individual, who
incommodes or displeases you. A dainty phrase—is it not?
I have said that Florinda was pretty constantly in the society of
Fleetwood, from the time I became acquainted with her till her
fourteenth year. He then left us for the east, and we have not seen him
since. The settled melancholy, to which he was a prey after Miss
Challoner's death, hardly seemed to have abated at the period of his
departure. What travel and time may have done for him I cannot say. His
chief solace used to be in superintending the education of Florinda;
and he was accustomed to take long rides with her on horse-back, which
I think were advantageous to the health of both. Suddenly he appeared
to avoid the child's society as much as he had coveted it Whether
anything had occurred to prejudice him against her I cannot say. I have
my suspicion, however. It is this: He saw that Florinda, child though
she was, was becoming altogether too much interested in him—in short,
that she threatened to be in love. Indeed, from the earliest time that
I saw them together, I was struck by the constant effort on her part to
divert his melancholy, and engage his attention. She had no eyes for
any one else while he was in the room—no ears for any one while he was
speaking. She would anticipate his slightest wishes by his looks, and
show an anxiety to please, which he at first placed to the account of
childish affection and gratitude, but which he afterwards, I suspect,
attributed to causes more calculated to awaken his solicitude.
There are other circumstances, which I can now call to remembrance,
which go to confirm my suspicion. For a month or two after Fleetwood's
departure, I recollect that Florinda visibly failed in health and in
spirits. She became pale, reserved and thoughtful, and lost all that
vivacity, that earnestness of disposition, which is perhaps her most
winning charm. At length she roused from this depression—applied
herself with redoubled ardor to her studies, and acquiesced in all that
I proposed for her amusement or instruction. Two seasons since I
introduced her into society. Her beauty, her figure, and that
enchanting grace which marks all her movements, caught perhaps from her
early practice as a danseuse, made her at once an object of
extraordinary attraction. Her conquests have been numerous, and of the
most brilliant description. But she has never stooped to conquer. She
seems to shrink from the admiration which courts her. She is a perfect
enigma both to the women and the men.
I think I have hit upon the solution. How else should it be that,
at her age, she should pass unscathed, with such decorum and
statue-like propriety, through the gay and tempting scenes, the
bewildering allurements, to which she is subjected? How should it be
that she should receive unmoved, save perhaps by an emotion of pity,
the passionate devotion of the most accomplished, elegant and
distinguished young men in Paris? Her heart's palladium, I am
convinced, is a previous attachment— a strong, enduring and
irreversible one. I tremble for her future when I ask myself—is there
any likelihood that it will ever be returned?
We received a letter from Fleetwood about a week since, under the
date of Constantinople. He writes that he shall be in Paris before
June—and the roses in our garden are already in bloom! The color fled
from Florinda's cheeks as I announced the news. Her agitation was so
violent that I feared she would faint. I pretended not to notice her,
and she gradually recovered firmness enough to remark: "Mr. Fleetwood
has been absent a long, long while!"
Fleetwood cannot but be amazed at the change in his pupil's
appearance. He left her a puny though lovely girl. He will find her in
the full bloom of womanhood—with a figure developed to the proportions
of the most consummate beauty— to which all the graces seem to "lend
their zone" by turns—a face that would charm an anchorite, and give
him purer dreams of heaven while itcharmed—a voice, that, in its
commonest tones, is music—and, better than all, a heart
"Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold!"
He will find her surrounded by all that can distract the young and
the healthy—courted, flattered and caressed—receiving the homage of
the gifted, the noble and the proud—and yet, amid all these
fascinations, retaining, as I am persuaded, his image enshrined in her
soul as its dearest and paramount human object of veneration and love.
I have ordered his old apartment in our hotel to be made ready. We
are hourly expecting his arrival. He will come; but will he still turn
with dismay from the danger of awakening in this young girl an
attachment to which he cannot respond? He has suffered much. He is
alone in the world, without a relative. There are circumstances which
should endear Florinda to him forever. Did they not exist, he might
well be proud of her preference.
You will smile, dear Madeline, to see that I, who have inveighed so
often against meddlesome matchmakers, am in danger of becoming one
myself. But is not this a case wherein I might exert some influence,
and venture upon some management, with propriety? I am full of anxiety
on Florinda's account; and my concern for Fleetwood is not less lively.
Can it be that he will shun the matrimonial haven, where he cannot fail
to find happiness after his wanderings and his griefs? I have no facts
on which to base my calculations as to his present intentions and
dispositions. Whether he is still sorrowing, or whether activity has
allured cheerfulness to join its train, I cannot say. But be assured,
if my influence can avail, it shall not be wanting to bring about a
result which, according to mynotions of the fitness of things, ought to
be among the pre-arranged adjudications of that place where, I can
readily believe, some matches, at least, are made.